Associated Press: A splinter group of conservative Catholics has disrupted a demonstration of Buddhist chants and prayers at a Roman Catholic Church in western Michigan.
The Basilica of St. Adalbert in Grand Rapids hosted seven Tibetan Buddhist monks in the church’s sanctuary Tuesday evening, where about 35 people gathered to see them.
But about 50 members of a conservative Catholic splinter group and their spiritual leader from Allendale said allowing the Basilica to be used by non-Christians amounted to sacrilege.
The members of St. Margaret Mary Church, which included several children, sat in the front pews and loudly recited prayers of the Rosary, preventing the monks from giving the demonstration.
That prompted the monks to move from the stage peacefully, confounded by the events.
Those who came to see the monks were not happy and accused the group from Allendale of being rude and not behaving like Christians.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Chris Kantor of Grand Rapids told The Grand Rapids Press. “If this is a sign of the times, we’re in big trouble.”
The Rev. Thomas DeYoung, pastor at St. Adalbert’s, asked the Allendale group to leave several times, but members ignored him and continued their recitation. Grand Rapids police were called but decided to let the group disperse peacefully.
The monks and those who came to see the demonstration moved to the basement, and once the sanctuary cleared out, the Allendale group left.
Protest leader the Rev. Michael McMahon said allowing the Buddhist monks into the Catholic church was offensive. His congregation, which practices Latin Mass, is not part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids.
“This goes against everything we as Catholics are supposed to believe,” McMahon said. “We can’t stand by while this irreligious group uses this beautiful basilica.”
The monks were invited by Yosay Wangdi, a Tibetan faculty member of Grand Valley State University’s history department. The monks also were to appear at the university Wednesday.
Wangdi called Tuesday night’s protest “unfortunate,” adding Christians have nothing to fear from Tibetan Buddhists.
“Buddhism is a very tolerant religion,” Wangdi said Wednesday. “The Dalai Lama has extreme respect for other religions. He and the pope are good friends.”
McMahon’s church is part of the Society of St. Pius X, a group that rejects many of tenets of the Vatican II edict that modernized the Roman Catholic Church in the 1960s.
The society, which has churches worldwide, is rejected by most Catholics, and the Vatican does not recognize its priests or traditions.