We are living in troubled times. All you had to do was to look around at the tight security that surrounded Holy Week services and you knew that these are not the best of times.
On Good Friday morning outside St. James Cathedral-Basilica, Downtown Brooklyn, four NYPD anti-terrorism officers held automatic rifles and wore bullet-proof vests. They were guarding the thousands who would process from the cathedral, over the Brooklyn Bridge to Ground Zero for the annual Stations of the Cross sponsored by Communion and Liberation. Inside the historic church, bomb-sniffing dogs from the NYPD canine unit swept the building to assure the safety of all within.
That evening in Bensonhurst, where 5,000 parishioners walked through the streets to St. Frances Cabrini Church on their annual Way of the Cross, police stood guard at every intersection to control traffic and other units walked side-by-side with worshippers to maintain a safe and secure atmosphere. The line of march was tighter than other years so that participants weren’t spread out across a longer distance.
At St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Manhattan, as Cardinal Timothy Dolan processed up the aisle for the Easter Vigil, security was evident.
A tip of the cap to New York’s Finest for all the effort they put into keeping us all safe during Holy Week.
The atmosphere had been one of alert since the previous weekend’s Palm Sunday bombing of two churches in Egypt. More than 45 people were killed and 127 injured when two men blew themselves up at St. George’s Church in Tanta, and the Cathedral of St. Mark in Alexandria. ISIS has claimed responsibility for inspiring the attacks.
Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II was inside the cathedral when the bomb was detonated outside.
In Egypt, Easter celebrations were reportedly somber.
“There were plenty of people coming for the Easter services at the churches because they did not want to be intimidated,” Father Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic bishops.
He added that the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches in Egypt refused to receive government officials for Easter greetings, in part out of mourning and anger over security failures to protect Egypt’s ancient Christian community.
Those incidents also have unleashed talk about the possibility of cancelling next weekend’s visit to Egypt by Pope Francis. But a Vatican spokesman was adamant that the Holy Father remains firm in his resolve to make the trip.
The pope is scheduled to meet with government and interfaith leaders, including Patriarch Tawadros, April 28-29, in Cairo. NET-TV will bring you all the highlights live, beginning in the early morning hours (our time) and repeating them during prime time. See the NET-TV schedule in this week’s pullout guide.