Churches taking new security measures in response to terror threats

Churches across the globe celebrated Christmas Eve mass, Saturday.

It was standing room only at the century-old Cathedral of the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Dallas, as it is every Christmas Eve. An estimated 4,000 people attended the four services, Saturday night. Thousands more are celebrating Sunday morning, in the pews on Christmas Day. Church security is a huge factor to contend with this year, especially in the wake of recent ISIS threats.

Father Rodolfo Garcia worked to make sure his services are secure, "I think that we have adequate security to guarantee the security of our parishioners."

Hired police officers patrol the grounds of the cathedral during mass and Father Garcia has appointed ministers of hospitality -- members of the church who look for anything unusual.

"We sent out a message earlier on to all of our ministers of hospitality to be on a heightened alert and to be very vigilant, and if they should see anything abnormal, to report it immediately,” said Father Garcia.

It's the first time Father Garcia has had to send a message like that. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning that Islamic State sympathizers are calling for attacks on churches and holiday gatherings. The warning was issued after a list of U.S. churches was posted on a militants' social media site.

The post comes days after Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for an attack at a Christmas market in Berlin, which killed 12 people and injured 56.

Garcia says there he felt no fear for the Christmas Eve services, “Everybody seems to be at peace. Everybody is in the mood of the season, which is of great joy and exultation."

A spokesperson for the FBI says the bureau is aware of the list of churches and is investigating its credibility. There will be security again, Sunday morning, for Christmas Day mass.

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