Denver Newsroom, Jan 22, 2021 / 05:06 pm (CNA).- About eight pro-abortion protesters disrupted the Respect Life Mass at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in downtown Columbus Friday, where Bishop Robert Brennan was presiding at an event marking the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
“Two, four, six, eight, this church teaches hate,” the protesters shouted, saying that abortion rights were under attack.
“Fund abortion, not cops,” said one of their signs. “Abortion on Demand. End Hyde Now,” said another, apparently referring to the Hyde Amendment, which bans most federal funding for abortion. At least two protesters wore vests that read “clinic escort” on the back.
Police and church officials escorted the protestors outside, where some protesters appeared to make obscene gestures at them, according to video from The Columbus Dispatch.
Friday marked the 48th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which mandated permissive abortion laws nationwide.
Posts on the cathedral Facebook page indicated that Bishop Edward Malesic from the Diocese of Cleveland was present as a concelebrant of the Mass. The Columbus diocese had previously announced that all respect life activities would follow pandemic restrictions, including capacity limits at indoor events.
Bishop Brennan discussed the disruption in a statement the Columbus diocese sent to CNA.
“Today during our Respect Life Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral, a group of protesters entered this sacred space in an attempt to disrupt our worship,” Brennan said. “I am deeply thankful to the Columbus Police, assisted by diocesan staff, for the quick response without injury to anyone present.”
“I want to express my great admiration and thanks to all those attending the Mass whose respectful and prayerful response reflects the joy, hope, and mercy that marks our pro-life witness,” he added. “I also apologize to the families present whose children were exposed to this.”
“On this day, in remembrance of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision, I ask all to continue to pray for the unborn who died, for all those who have experienced the pain of abortion, and for those who cannot understand our divine and steadfast calling to champion this cause,” the bishop said.
Before the Mass began at 10:30 a.m. local time, Jerry Freewalt, director of the diocesan office for Social Concerns, discussed the purpose of the event.
“We are called to respect life and love our neighbor. … They’re all made in the image of God,” he said, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “It’s important because, especially in this day and age where there’s a lot of turmoil in our society and in some circles disrespect for each other, this type of Mass we hope will empower Catholics and all people of goodwill to take up that mantle of seeing Christ in each other.”
While pro-life advocates are hopeful that legal precedent on abortion will be revised by the Supreme Court after new justices were appointed by President Donald Trump, President Joe Biden has committed to a strong pro-abortion rights position, including an end to the Hyde Amendment.
As a U.S. Senator, Biden at one time said that the Roe v. Wade decision went too far and he was a longtime supporter of the Hyde Amendment. However, he backed away from this stand in June 2019 after criticism in the Democratic presidential primary.
Vice President Kamala Harris, a vocal proponent of abortion rights, has taken credit for Biden’s change in position on the Hyde Amendment. Any effort to end the amendment will require support in Congress.
In Columbus, St. Joseph’s Cathedral had posted to its Facebook page a photo of its church sign, which bore the message: “The Unborn Baby is created ‘in the image of God for Greater Things’,” with the message attributed to Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
After the Mass in Columbus, Bishop Brennan was scheduled to speak at the Roe Remembrance event outside the Ohio Statehouse. The event was sponsored by Greater Columbus Right to Life.