National News

Amid Protests, Columbia University Catholic Chaplain Urges Prayer, Charity

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 30: Members of the NYPD arrest protesters outside the gates of Columbia University while clearing the pro-Palestinian protest encampment and Hamilton Hall where demonstrators barricaded themselves inside on April 30, 2024 in New York City. Police arrested nearly 100 people as they cleared the university of demonstrators who were issued a notice to disband their encampment after negotiations failed to come to a resolution. University President Minouche Shafik has requested the NYPD maintain a presence on campus through at least May 17. (Photo by Alex Kent/Getty Images)

By Gina Christian, OSV News

(OSV News) — Recently, Columbia University in New York has become the epicenter of U.S. college protests and encampments demanding an end to U.S. support of Israel, now at war with Hamas following that group’s Oct. 7, 2023, attack on approximately 22 locations in Israel.

Some 1,200 were killed in Israel during the ambush, with Hamas members taking 253 Israeli hostages and — after several releases and rescues — some 130 remaining in captivity, at least 34 of whom are believed dead. Multiple accounts of sexual violence by Hamas members against Israeli females have been reported.

According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, more than 34,500 have been killed in Gaza in the ensuing war, and the ensuing humanitarian crisis has left the Middle East “on the verge of the abyss,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

On Columbia’s campus, a two-week standoff between protesters and the school culminated in protesters’ occupying and vandalizing an academic building April 30, with university president Minouche Shafik, backed by administrators, contacting law enforcement to clear the building after requests for voluntary disbandment went unheeded. Close to 110 were arrested, adding to the 100 detained following an April 18 effort to disband the encampment. University officials and law enforcement have stated that outside activists had led the building takeover.

OSV News asked Father Roger L. Landry, a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, who was appointed Catholic chaplain of the university in 2022 by New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, how he has ministered amid the turbulence on Columbia’s campus.