Anti-war protesters disrupt Easter Mass at Chicago cathedral
Angela Haban, Mercedes Phinaih, Regan Maher, Ryne Ziemba, Donte Smith and Ephran Ramirez Jr. (from left to right and top to bottom)
Angela Haban, Mercedes Phinaih, Regan Maher, Ryne Ziemba, Donte Smith and Ephran Ramirez Jr. (from left to right and top to bottom)

.- Six people protesting the war in Iraq were arrested after they disrupted an Easter Mass at Chicago’s cathedral and threw fake blood at parishioners, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The protesters stood and shouted at the beginning of Cardinal Francis George’s homily in the auditorium at Holy Name Cathedral. As ushers and security guards tried to remove them from the area, the protesters squirted fake blood on themselves and parishioners dressed in their Easter best.

Some of the 600 worshippers in attendance booed the protesters.  The demonstrators, who call themselves “Catholic Schoolgirls for Peace,” chanted as they were removed, saying, "Even the pope calls for peace."

“And so should we all,” said Cardinal George, drawing strong applause.

A small number of worshippers followed the protesters into the lobby to berate them for their actions. 

"Are you happy with yourselves?" Mike Wainscott of Chicago shouted at the demonstrators as they were being handcuffed. "There were kids in there. You scared little kids with your selfish act. Are you happy now?"

The six protesters, ranging in age from 18 to 25, were all charged with felony criminal damage to property and two counts of simple battery for squirting the blood around the auditorium.

A statement issued Sunday afternoon by Catholic Schoolgirls Against the War said it protested at the cathedral "to reach both Holy Name's large Easter audience—including Chicago's most prominent Catholic citizens, who commonly attend Easter mass at the church—and the many more viewers and readers of the local press, which usually extensively covers their services."

According to the Chicago Tribune, the statement praised the protesters’ efforts to remind the churchgoers of a January 7 meeting between Cardinal George, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, and President George W. Bush, whom the statement described as the "principal public figure responsible for initiating the carnage in Iraq."

Kevin Clark of the International Solidarity Movement attended the service to serve as a witness for the protesters.  "If Cardinal George is a man of peace and is walking the walk and talking the talk, he should have confronted George Bush and demanded an immediate end to the war," Clark said.

After the Mass, the Chicago Tribune reports that Cardinal George reiterated the Catholic Church’s opposition to the war, but he said Easter Mass was not the place to protest the U.S.-led invasion, whose fifth anniversary was marked last week.

"We should all work for peace," George said, "but not by interrupting the worship of God."

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