Worshipers celebrate Christmas at New York City churches amid heightened security

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The NYPD is stepping up patrols outside churches and around New York City Tuesday to keep everyone safe this Christmas.

Worshipers are being met with tight security at St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Officials say there are no credible threats, but they are beefing up security out of an abundance of caution.

Christmas Mass is a holiday tradition for many families, and most have grown accustomed to the sight of heavily-armed officers.

Hundreds packed into St. Patrick's to celebrate Midnight Mass, led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

Crowds stood in long security lines waiting to get inside, but the NYPD insists the goal is to keep the holiday about the holiday and that they treat all denominations equally.

Counter-terrorism officers and those with the Strategic Response Group will be stationed at house of worship all across the city.

"Every year, no matter what the denomination, we cover," NYPD Chief of Department Terrence Monahan said. "Christmas is a very big Christian holiday, obviously. Big Masses, Midnight Masses all over the city. Just like we do on Passover, we cover the synagogues, we cover the Catholic churches during this, and we cover everything wherever there's a large gathering of people."

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