Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency
While chanting and playing ceremonial drums, a group of Native American rights activists reportedly led by Nathan Phillips attempted Jan. 19 to enter Washington, D.C.’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception during a Saturday evening Mass.
The group of 20 demonstrators was stopped by shrine security as it 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.”
A source close to the shrine’s leadership corroborated the security guard’s account, telling CNA that during the Mass, 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 locked the main basilica doors with the congregation still inside.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that about 60 people gathered outside the shrine in support of Phillips on Saturday night, though it did not mention reports that Phillips and some supporters attempted to disrupt the evening Mass.
Video footage showed one supporter saying that the group had gathered at the shrine to listen to Phillips, and to hold the Catholic Church “accountable” for the alleged actions of the Covington Catholic students and for the “colonial violence that the Catholic Church reproduces every day.”