Columbia’s Catholic chaplain: Campus protests were pushed by ‘explicitly communist’ outsiders

Fr. Roger Landry Father Roger Landry, Catholic chaplain at Columbia University, discusses the protests at Columbia University in New York City on EWTN’s “The World Over with Raymond Arroyo” on May 2, 2024. | Credit: EWTN News The World Over / Screenshot

Father Roger Landry, a Catholic chaplain at Columbia University, said on Thursday that the protests making national headlines at the New York City school are being organized in part by “explicitly communist” outside forces. 

“There is an instrumentalization of what’s going on in Gaza to advance an agenda,” he said. “And that is to deconstruct our present world order at which the United States is considered the top of that order.”

Speaking on EWTN’s “The World Over with Raymond Arroyo,” Landry said that he had been walking through the encampment nearly daily, conversing with student protesters and other “outside agitators.” 

While he said he believes that many of the protesters were genuinely concerned for Gazan civilians, there was a sizable percentage of whom were “explicitly in favor of Hamas” and “definitely antisemitic by their language and their actions.” 

What is going on at Columbia?

The Columbia demonstration began on April 17 when a large group of students set up dozens of tents to occupy the university’s main quad. Protesters at the encampment said they were standing against Israel’s “genocide” against Palestinians in Gaza. 

Many videos circulated online of protesters shouting antisemitic chants and calling for the destruction of Israel, and some Jewish students have reported being threatened by protesters. 

Clad in riot gear, officers from the New York City Police Department cleared the encampment in a Wednesday raid that resulted in several hundred arrests. 

Similar protests and encampments on campuses across the country, many of which are still ongoing, have taken place since the demonstration at Columbia began. 

Marxist ideology at heart of protest

According to Landry, nearly half of the approximately 300 protesters arrested were non-student activists. 

He said these outside forces are “explicitly communist groups” who have been distributing Marxist materials attacking the state of Israel since the Hamas Oct. 7, 2023, terrorist attack. 

Landry said that these materials attempt to justify the Hamas attack “out of this neo-Marxist, ‘oppressor versus oppressed’ ideology that says whatever somebody in the category of ‘oppressed’ wants to do against a so-called ‘oppressor’ is justified, even killing way more than a thousand innocent people at a party.” 

“This divide and conquer class warfare that comes from Marx and Lenin is the exact antithesis of what Jesus Christ himself taught,” he continued. “So, I try to get the Catholic students aware of that problem so at least they’re inoculated to that intellectual virus.” 

Catholic students act as peacemakers 

Landry said he was proud of the many Catholic students who have “stepped up” to be peacemakers amid all the hatred on campus.   

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He said that student Mass attendance has increased on campus. A Catholic student group sent symbolic olive plants to both Jewish and Muslim leaders at Columbia to show the “solidarity and peace of Christ,” he said. 

“Transcending the moment but also incarnating ourselves in the moment, [we] are trying to bring the peace we have received from Christ that our world and our campus very much need,” he said.

Watch the full interview with Landry on “The World Over” below.


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