A group of Native American rights activists reportedly led by Nathan Phillips attempted – while chanting and playing ceremonial drums – to enter Washington, D.C.’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception during a Saturday evening Mass on Jan 19.
The group of what has been described as 20 angry demonstrators were stopped by shrine security as they tried to enter the church during its 5:15 pm Vigil Mass, according to a shrine security guard on duty during the Mass.
“It was really upsetting,” the guard told CNA.
“There were about twenty people trying to get in, we had to lock the doors and everything.”
The guard said the incident was a disappointment during a busy and joyful weekend for the shrine.
“We had hundreds and hundreds of people from all over the country come here to celebrate life, to celebrate each other together. That a protest tried to come inside during Mass was really the worst.”
The guard told CNA the situation was “tense.”
“I’m just really grateful that nothing too bad happened, they were really angry.”
Witnesses and a source close to the shrine’s leadership corroborated the security guard’s account, telling catholicnewsagency.com that during the Mass, Nathan Phillips and the group tried to enter the church while playing drums and chanting, and were prohibited from entering the building by security personnel, who had to lock the main basilica doors with the congregation still inside.
The Mass came the day after the annual March for Life and within hours of the now-famous boys’-school marchers from Covington Catholic High School becoming the nation’s biggest news as racist smirkers, with the help of misleadingly edited clips.
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