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DESPITE THREAT, CARDINAL JOINS N.Y. PRO-LIFE MARCH

SHARE DESPITE THREAT, CARDINAL JOINS N.Y. PRO-LIFE MARCH

Defying a death threat and scores of noisy protesters shouting "Shame," New York's Cardinal John O'Connor Saturday became one of the highest-ranking Catholic churchmen to take part in a U.S. pro-life street protest.

O'Connor joined about 2,500 Roman Catholics who, holding their crosses high in the air, prayed the rosary in front of an abortion clinic on 30th Street in Manhattan. He said the rosary he used was given to him by Mother Teresa.About 800 demonstrators ringed both ends of the block, shouting "Shame," "Nazis" and "Keep your rosaries out of our ovaries."

A handful of women entered the abortion clinic under escort with blue plastic sheets covering their heads to protect their identities. A spokeswoman for the clinic, Eastern Women's Services, said abortions were performed as usual inside the clinic.

Before the street protest began, O'Connor celebrated Mass at St. Agnes Church 13 blocks away, telling an overflow crowd that he had received a death threat but was going ahead anyway.

"There was a call last night to police and the woman who called said that if she was with me (in the protest) she would shoot me," he told congregants, adding amid laughter, "despite the possible pleasure that would give my auxiliary bishops."

O'Connor warned his congregants that "violence begets violence" and instructed them not to engage in conversation or exchange insults with pro-choice demonstrators. As a result, taunts were greeted with chants of the "Hail Mary."

At least 11 pro-choice demonstrators were arrested for disorderly conduct, including one young woman who tried to crash the front of the march with a pro-choice banner.