Catholic groups warn of increasing church vandalism, demand more media coverage


NEW YORK — A gunman fired into a Denver-area church in two separate incidents earlier this month, crimes that rocked Colorado’s Catholic community.

“We are praying for the conversion of whoever did this,” said Derrick Johnson, who is a deacon at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church. Catholic News Agency. “If there is an opportunity to speak to this person, we would be happy to speak with them and have a dialogue.”

The incidents, which took place on August 6 and 8, will cost the church $75,000 in damages. No one was injured in the attacks. Photos show bullet holes shattered windows.

LILY: Study finds Muslim woman in India faces discrimination in hiring

Security footage from the first incident shows “a single motorcyclist firing what we believe to be a gun as he drove by,” Johnson said.

“These incidents happened after hours,” he added. “We don’t think they are targeting people, they are just targeting the church for some reason.”

The Colorado incident is part of a string of crimes committed against places of worship across North America, mostly directed at Catholic churches, since last year. Many of these incidents took place in the weeks leading up to and following the Supreme Court’s decision to roll back federal abortion rights. Many of the locations targeted by the vandals included pro-life pregnancy centers.

Catholic voters said they were worried about attacks targeting pro-life churches and pregnancy centers, according to a recent poll by EWTN.

In July, the White House condemned vandalism at houses of worship “in the strongest possible terms”, calling the attacks “despicable”.

“(President Joe Biden) is deeply concerned by this information and condemns arson and other acts of vandalism against places of worship in the strongest possible terms,” ​​said White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates. FoxNews. “Such attacks are despicable, endanger lives and have the appalling purpose of instilling fear. They are also illegal.

Biden, a practicing Catholic, said Americans “must be vigilant against the rising tide of targeted violence and hatred at home and abroad, and work to ensure that no one is afraid to witness a church service, at a school or community center, or walk down the street wearing the symbols of their faith.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has documented 152 incidents against churches since May 2020, including arson attacks and beheadings of statues. Despite the increase in the number of incidents, the cases received little national media attention. It’s also unclear how many of these cases, especially those against churches, have anything to do with the issue of abortion.

“Most of those who work in the mainstream media are pro-abortion, and enthusiastically so,” said Catholic League president Bill Donohue. “As such, they have little interest in reporting the violence that marks the demonstrators on their side. We will continue to follow these incidents at the Catholic League and will contact the authorities – we have already done so – on the need for action.

In neighboring Canada, a watchdog group found that Catholics had suffered an increase in hate crimes last year. Statistics Canada released a report Aug. 2, revealing that the biggest increase in targeted crime has occurred against Catholics, with a 260% increase between 2020 and 2021.

“Undoubtedly, this increase can be attributed to attacks on Catholic churches in Canada in 2021, including the deliberate burning of churches,” the Catholic Civil Rights League said in a statement posted on its website. “The CCRL had reported that the period from May to August last year saw more attacks on Catholic churches than any other period. Mainstream media reported the overall 27% increase, but the most staggering of all increases, the 260% increase in anti-Catholic hate crimes, was largely ignored.

The findings come as Pope Francis has just completed a six-day trip to Canada to apologize for the church’s role in his forced conversion which led to generations of physical and sexual abuse.

The organization said it would fulfill its “mandate to work with the media to ensure that anti-Catholic vilification and even anti-Catholic violence will not be tolerated” and that the government is working to investigate. such incidents. It is unclear how many of these cases stem from allegations of abuse or if they are related to other factors.

“Our politicians must speak out against this alarming trend, and law enforcement officials must vigorously investigate all incidents of hate crimes against Catholics,” the group said, “and charge those responsible.”

Clemente Lisi is an editor and regular contributor to Religion Unplugged. He is the former deputy news director at the New York Daily News and teaches journalism at King’s College in New York. Follow him on Twitter @ClementeLisi.


Comments are closed.