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Ham Haters Invade St. Patrick’s Cathedral

35101024_sCommentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

Animal rights protesters interrupted Easter Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Sunday in an effort to guilt the congregation into eating something besides the traditional ham dinner for their holiday meal.

The New York Post is reporting on the incident which took place about 20 minutes into the noon Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

A group of six protesters suddenly leaped up from a pew in the middle of the Cathedral and shouted, “Easter is a time for love! No more shedding animal blood” while holding up signs of animals pleading for their lives.

A 23 year-old protester named Jacob Martin then jumped out of his seat and started down the aisle while shouting into a bullhorn, “Only the devil” could create “animals capable of love and joy just so humans can make them suffer and die.”

Martin had a camera strapped to his chest which many worshipers mistook for an explosive device.

"I was terrified," said a worshiper named Cindy Calitri, 52. “I thought it was a bomb. There was something on his chest with lights flashing.”

Thankfully, police and security promptly overtook Martin and dragged him out of the church while the other protesters followed behind.

After the disturbance died down, Father Damian O’Connell led parishioners in a prayer for the protesters, reminding the congregation that “Pope Francis calls us to interact peacefully with those who oppose us.”

A member of the group, Raffaella Ciavatta, 31, later told reporters that the reason for the disruption was to protest the traditional Easter dinner of ham.

“Ham is a big thing on Easter, so that’s why we decided to bring those voices to the public,” she explained.

According to Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, the protesters were part of an animal rights organization known as Collectively Free, an organization he describes as being "confused at best and dishonest at worst.

“On the one hand, it emphasizes integrity and empathy, urging its members to show respect for and value individuals," Donohue explains. "On the other hand, it encourages members to be ‘provocative & experimental’ in their tactics, making sure they push ‘the boundaries’,” such as forcing their way into establishments that “normalize the exploitation of non-human animals” where they “hold space” and speak out on behalf of the victims.

“That the two goals are contradictory escapes them.”

The group probably would have been happy with Donohue, however. He had a steak on Easter Sunday, not ham.

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