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Attacks on Catholic churches continue

Martha’s Catholic Church

CBS Miami | YouTube | Fair Use

J-P Mauro - published on 10/15/21 - updated on 10/15/21

Six more instances of vandalism against the Catholic Church have been documented since September.

The troubling trend of vandalism and defacement of Church properties has continued seemingly unabated. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has been tracking the attacks on their website, has now updated their list to include some 101 attacks on local parishes since May 2020. 

In September the USCCB listed only 95 incidents. Six more acts of vandalism have been perpetrated by unknown assailants in the last month. Two of these came in recent weeks, with churches reporting graffiti and destruction of property in Denver and Miami, respectively. 

St. Martha’s Catholic Church, Miami, Florida

On September 30, 2021, a statue of Jesus at the entrance of St. Martha’s Church was attacked and destroyed. CBS Miami reports that an unknown assailant knocked off the head of the statue. Further damage was done to the arms, with one of them completely removed, while the other is now missing a hand. Damages are estimated in the thousands.

In this case, the vandals took the time to pick up the head of the statue and toss it over the fence. According to WSVN News, the incident was caught on surveillance footage, but the video has not led to an arrest, or identification of the vandal.

The Catholic community of St. Martha’s expressed their frustration over the second incidence of vandalism of their property in a month. The events occurred exactly one month apart, which has led some to question if there was some meaning behind the timing. Still, Mary Rose Agosta, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Miami, upheld Catholic values by forgiving the vandal. She said: 

“I would think our human nature would say this is somebody who is hurting,” said Agosta. “Yes, forgiveness, that’s what we’re about, but at the same time, we can’t forget it because it is a crime.” 

The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Denver, Colorado

On the morning of October 11, 2021, the congregation of The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception found graffiti on the front door. Emblazoned in red paint was the phrase “Satan lives here,” while the pillars beside the portal read “Jesus was here.” 

The vandals then jumped a fence to deface a side door of the building. Sprayed over a bronzed mural of Christ with the saints and popes, the same red paint read “child rapists,” along with a derogatory term for homosexual men. The platform of a nearby statue was also tagged with the words “Satan,” and “love wins.” 

According to the Washington Examiner, Denver’s churches have been especially plagued by such vandalism in recent months. Since May, 2020, 25 Catholic locations have reported attacks. This includes a recent burglary at Cure d’Ars Catholic Church, where vandals made off with the tabernacle full of consecrated hosts. 

The USCCB

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has had little recourse to combat the alarming trend of attacks on the Church. In July, Yahoo reports, Archbishops Thomas Wenski of Miami and Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City released a statement decrying the violence. They warned that the continuing trend could indicate a failing spiritual health in society. They wrote: 

“Whether those who committed these acts were troubled individuals crying out for help or agents of hate seeking to intimidate, the attacks are signs of a society in need of healing,” the archbishops said.

“In those incidents where human actions are clear, the motives still are not. As we strain to understand the destruction of these holy symbols of selfless love and devotion, we pray for any who have caused it, and we remain vigilant against more of it,” they added.

With few suspects in these 101 cases, and even fewer arrests, the USCCB can do little else but direct the faithful to pray for these troubled individuals. Until action is taken, they will continue to document cases of vandalism against the Catholic Church on their website. 

See the full list at USCCB

Tags:
Catholic ChurchUnited States
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