‘They Were Screaming in Our Faces,’ Pastor Says
SOHO — A pro-life march and prayer vigil outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Soho turned tense on Saturday, July 2, when pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block pro-life supporters from marching to the clinic following the Mass at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral.
The march and prayer vigil still took place, but police had to be called to the scene to keep the two sides apart and allow the planned march to proceed.
The incident took place after the 8 a.m. Witness for Life Mass, a Mass that takes place on the first Saturday of every month in which pro-life supporters gather at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral at 263 Mulberry St. in Soho to pray for the unborn. Following the Mass, pro-life supporters usually march from the cathedral to a Planned Parenthood clinic at 240 Mulberry St. — two blocks away — where they hold a prayer vigil and recite the Rosary on the sidewalk.
But on Saturday, they were met by a group of approximately 250 angry demonstrators, said Father Brian Graebe, the cathedral’s pastor, who took part in the march. According to reports, the demonstrators were organized by the group NYC for Abortion Rights.
“They were screaming in our faces,” Father Graebe said.
The demonstrators carried signs with slogans such as “Thank God for abortion” and “I will aid and abet abortion.”
“There must have been 70 cops there. It was very tense,” Father Graebe said. “It took us 90 minutes to go two blocks.”
While the confrontation slowed down the march, it didn’t stop it and they ultimately got to the clinic to pray the rosary.
The pro-life supporters had a city permit for the march, according to Father Grabe: “We do this every month.”
An NYPD spokesperson said no arrests were made and that no complaint report had been filed.
Saturday marked the first Witness for Life Mass at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral since the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Since that ruling, the cathedral has been hit by vandalism, including graffiti featuring satanic images and “people writing things that are unprintable,” according to Father Graebe.
The Mass is scheduled to take place again on Saturday, Aug. 1, although Father Graebe said there is now a great deal of concern for the safety of the participants.
“We need to have a conversation about that,” he said.