Pro-Palestine Protest Suspends Easter Service

( Pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted solemn prayers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral during the Easter Vigil service led by Archbishop Timothy Dolan on Saturday, March 30.

Around 45 minutes into the service, police swiftly apprehended the demonstrators who barged in, displaying a white banner reading “Silence = Death.” Despite the disruption, congregants reportedly remained largely unfazed.

The protesters, chanting “Free Palestine,” were escorted out by law enforcement, as captured in footage of the incident. According to the New York Post, the individuals taken into custody were identified as Gregory Schwedock, 35, John Rozendaal, 63, and Matthew Menzies, 31.

Schwedock had previously made headlines for disrupting the U.S. Open in September by gluing his feet to the court during a climate change protest, resulting in a nearly 50-minute delay and subsequent arrest.

The interruption of the Easter service followed a larger pro-Palestinian demonstration earlier that day in Times Square, where thousands called for a Gaza ceasefire. This coincided with Holy Week’s conclusion as millions of Christians worldwide celebrated.

Despite the importance of their cause, many attendees of the Easter Vigil service felt the protest was disrespectful and out of place.

59-year-old Arturo Ballester expressed his disapproval, emphasizing the need for mutual respect among different religions. He acknowledged the suffering in Gaza but suggested alternative methods for expressing one’s views.

Another congregant, who wished to remain anonymous, echoed the sentiment that the protest should have been held outside the church. They emphasized the sacred nature of the church and urged the demonstrators to show respect for this space, especially considering the dire situation in Gaza.

In a statement preceding Holy Week, the USCCB emphasized peace in the Middle East through prayer, calling for an end to the conflict. They highlighted the connection between Holy Week’s reflection on Christ’s suffering and resurrection and the source of hope.

Consistently advocating for peace, prayer, fasting, and Hamas-held hostage release since the conflict’s onset, the USCCB has also lamented civilian casualties on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.

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