By Tim Harfmann
Police arrested a man after he allegedly carried gasoline canisters, lighter fluid and lighters into St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The apparent threat came on the heels of the Notre Dame disaster. Cardinal Timothy Dolan talked about security at St. Patrick’s. “Our [security guards] were suspicious, walked the man out, immediately called the police department; They apprehended him, and now he’s secure. So, the system works. Does that mean it’s fail-safe? No, but that’s why we come to church, to pray for God’s protection,” said Cardinal Dolan.
Thirty-seven-year-old Marc Lamparello of New Jersey is charged with attempted arson, reckless endangerment and trespassing. Police said Lamparello parked a minivan outside St. Patrick’s around 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17th. Lamparello allegedly entered with two large containers filled with gasoline, two bottles of lighter fluid and two lighters. Cathedral security stopped Lamparello inside the entrance. Monsignor Robert Ritchie is St. Patrick’s rector and said security guards and surveillance cameras help prevent situations; “Almost every church has emotional disturbed people come to them. The bigger the church, the more people that come, and so it’s something that we’re aware of.”
Worshipers visiting St. Patrick’s were shocked. “These kinds of things make you feel insecure,” said one visitor. “I would’ve hated to see that happen here [after] what just happened back in Paris. It’s just devastating,” said another.
All this came as Cardinal Dolan joined interfaith and other leaders to announce a fundraiser for Notre Dame Cathedral. It’s called the ‘From St. Patrick’s to Notre Dame Fund.’ The cardinal pointed to the role cathedrals play in helping the poor. “As Pope Francis says, ‘the poor have a right to beauty. The poor have a right to a sanctuary. The poor have a right to have their spirits, which are often crushed down, lifted up. That’s what Notre Dame does. That’s what St. Patrick’s does. So, in a way, this is almsgiving,” said Cardinal Dolan.
The ‘From St. Patrick’s to Notre Dame Fund’ has already surpassed $100,000.