Protesters disrupt cardinal's Easter mass

April 17, 2008 12:59:57 PM PDT
Easter Sunday mass was interrupted Sunday while Francis Cardinal George gave his homily.Six demonstrators were taken into Chicago Police custody after throwing fake blood on themselves and parishioners in an apparent war protest.

The three men and three women, members of the anti-war group Catholic School Girls Against War, will spend Sunday night in jail. They have been charged with felony criminal damage to property.

The oldest person arrested was 25 years old, and the youngest 18.

The protesters scattered among parishioners Sunday, stood up and screamed anti-war slogans, accusing the cardinal and the Catholic Church of supporting the war in Iraq.

The protesters were angry that Cardinal George attended a lunch with President Bush when he was in Chicago in January. They

"The people involved in the action wanted him to take a stand against war," said Mike Harding, a friend of the protesters. "They wanted him to step up to the plate and take the message public."

"We should all work for peace, but not by interrupting the worship of God. It is an act of violence to come into a community of believers and maui[pulate worship to your own purposes, no matter how good they are," Francis Cardinal George said.

The group of demonstrators managed to splash a red liquid on the floor, seats and even some traumatized churchgoers before police arrested a them for the protest, which happened during the 11 a.m. service.

"I have to go home, probably change clothes and just stay home and relax for a while," said parishioner Rick Gallegos.

"It was just a shock. You're not sure what's happening. You heard people getting up in the middle of the sermon and shouting. It was just concern about what's going on," said Derrick Witherington, a seminarian.

The incident happened in the church's parish center, Holy Name Cathedral, which was temporarily closed in February for ceiling repairs.

"We're here for the sermon. We're here to listen to God. We'd rather be in there [Holy Name Cathedral]," said parishioner George Lobo.

"Easter's Easter. It doesn't matter where you are. [It's about] worship and people," said Mary Shaw, also a parishioner.

No parishioners were injured during the demonstration. Easter service continued with extra security in the area after the protest was over.

The anti-war group chose Easter Sunday for their disruption because they say the war prevents Iraqi people from enjoying their holidays, and they chose Holy Name in order to reach a larger audience.

The six men and women will appear in bond court Monday.


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