It being a busy time of year for many of us, the Facebook mention of a police escort into Midnight Mass at the Cathedral from a friend here in St. Louis was a little jarring. Â (Isn’t ANYTHING sacred to the doggone protesters?) Â The friend’s photos were inside of the church and did not show any police.
(The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis is a magnificent melding of Byzantine and Roman styles dedicated to Christ featuring thousands of mosaics, an 110 rank pipe organ, seats enough for 1,500 people, and the archdiocese’s Cathedra, or the chair of the bishop. Â There are also two Tiffany rose windows, among other really beautiful details. Â Pictures like this one just don’t do it justice.)
Things being what they are here in St. Louis right now, one shrugs off the mention of riot police. Â Most of the time. Â And then this photograph was published beyond Twitter. Â It seemed that the protesters intended to disrupt Midnight Mass and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police were having none of it. Â (Given that Francis Slay, the Mayor, is a Maronite Rite Catholic and in the front pew for EVERY big occasion there….)
Gateway Pundit says this is “identified” as the Cathedral Basilica. Â As a native St. Louisan Catholic – that’s EXACTLY what this church is. Â Corner of Lindell and Newstead in the Central West End. Â Given the Holy Day, the Archbishop would be saying Mass, too.
From a personal perspective, this is more than disturbing. Â This writer spent many a Holy Day in this church in a variety of capacities. Â The neighborhood is my old stomping grounds. Â We’ve never had police in riot gear surrounding the building, not even when the crack houses were 6 blocks away. Â (Several of us did lose our license plate renewal stickers over the years, though.) Â And now, because a bunch of protesters want to make a point and defend criminals shot by police simply because the police are doing their jobs, Mass-goers are greeted by this sight when going to church to celebrate?
There seems to be two classes of protesters at this point: the destructive ones who loot, deface property, destroy police cars and burn down businesses; and then there are the liberals who seem to want nothing more than to draw attention to themselves carrying signs that say “Black lives matter.” Â The group that descended on the Cathedral Wednesday night seemed to be the latter. Â The protest was peaceful. Â But it did generate images of the Cathedral’s edifice surrounded by riot police.
Writer note: this appears to be in the plaza in front of the Cathedral. Â
To St. Louisans, though, this is a personal affront. Â Our Cathedral Basilica is beloved by people of all branches of Christianity, non-Christians, and so many others. Â It is very much one of the focal points of life here, and one of the many “proud ofs” we insist visitors see. Â The plaza and street in front of the building have been the site of previous protests (mostly having to do with the priest-abuse scandal which rocked us all), but the police never donned riot gear before. Â Despite the number of people who consider the Cathedral overdone, ornate, and ostentatious rather than a work of art built for the inspiration of generation after generation, the worst threat to it has always been the weather.
Now, the people who attended that Midnight Mass may well be filled with fear rather than the joy of the Nativity. Â Many will think twice before going to Mass there again. Â In the weeks after Easter, the Cathedral becomes a beehive of Confirmations from all over the Archdiocese. Â Following that, there are multiple high school graduations. Â And then there are the weddings. Â It is a busy place. Â Given that St. Louis has already gained an undeserved violent reputation following the Michael Brown shooting and even the most quiet of neighborhoods that at least had a little life are suddenly dead as a doornail after dark, this is getting ridiculous.
We in St. Louis want our city back. Â No one denies that black lives matter. Â No one. Â Yes, the region is self-polarized at this point, and the main dividing line is not that far from the Cathedral, but protesting there during one of the Holiest nights of the year is not going to endear any of the protesters to us. Â All it does is make headlines in an attempt to tar the Catholic Church with the racist brush when nothing can be further from the truth. Â For decades, the Church has operated programs throughout the north side and in north county to help the people there. Â The seminary is integrated. Â Catholics work and pray alongside our fellow Christians to make St. Louis a better place to live.
And for this, the Cathedral Basilica is used as a backdrop for protests backing known criminals over those who actually keep law and order in this city. Irony is not strong enough a word.