What is Behind the Rash of Religious Vandalism?
Acts of religious violence serve as grim reminders that what is sacred to some is simply seen by others as an invitation to desecrate, and that in circumstances where the hatred is so obvious, there is nothing more powerful than prayer.
A cross was burned and jammed, inverted, into a damaged stove. A knife was plunged into the face of a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Feces were left on the auditorium floor. The satanic number "666" was scrawled in various places throughout the facility. Condiments and food staples covered every surface. Butter was flung on the heavy, velvet auditorium curtains, staining them irreparably.
Because the damage was particularly pernicious, the police, who are in possession of the video, are characterizing the vandalism as a hate crime. "I can feel the sadness of spirit," said Fr. David Velasquez, the pastor of St. Rose of Lima, when speaking of those who came to help clean up the mess in an interview with KCAL 9 TV.
This is simply the most recent of what seems to be a rash of cases of religiously motivated vandalism. Last month, a statue of Mary was desecrated in Charlotte, NC. The statue was decapitated and her praying hands were shattered in the prayer garden at St. Matthew Catholic Church.
The vandalized statue provided a teachable moment for Monsignor John McSweeney when he and parishioners stopped in the rose garden where the statue was located; they took the opportunity to pray for the vandals teach their children that "nothing is immune from violence."
Two weeks ago, the pastor of Weymouth Catholic Church, in Weymouth Mass. Discovered a "heinous act" of destruction to a 66-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary outside his own church. The statue, placed in a grotto beside the church in 1944 by Boy Scouts to honor 16 men killed in World War II, was also decapitated and left in pieces.
Although each of these incidents was reported to police, there are no suspects and no arrests have been made. Such acts of religious violence, rather than merely vandalism, are felt to be attacks on people's faith and values by the members of the parishes in which they are perpetrated.
They also serve as grim reminders that what is sacred to some is simply seen by others as an invitation to desecrate, and that in circumstances where the hatred is so obvious, there is nothing more powerful than prayer.
Sonja Corbitt is a Catholic speaker, Scripture teacher and study author and a contributing author for Catholic Online. She is available to speak on the New Feminism, current events and your preferred theme. Visit her at www.pursuingthesummit.com for information and sample videos, or www.pursuingthesummit.blogspot.com.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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