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Arrests Made in Catholic Church Vandalism Cases

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Two separate incidents of vandalism at Catholic churches in the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, resulted in arrests on Saturday.

Image Credit: Aitoff

Image Credit: Aitoff

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/10/2023 (9 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Vandalism, Catholic, arrests, New York

At Resurrection Church in Brooklyn, a white marble statue of the Blessed Mother was defaced with black graffiti on her face, shoulders, and hands. The statue was marked with the word "fake" and an upside-down cross, a symbol commonly associated with vandalism targeting Catholic sites.

Jonathan Bulik, a 37-year-old resident of Brooklyn, was apprehended by two parishioners while spray-painting the statue. He has been charged with criminal mischief as a hate crime, as reported by The Tablet, the diocese's news outlet.

In another incident on the same day, the same individual allegedly desecrated St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Astoria. According to the diocese, Jaime Bonilla entered the church and exhibited erratic behavior, causing disturbance during a youth choir practice and frightening the children. No damage was caused to the church, and no injuries were reported.

Jaime Bonilla, a 22-year-old from Queens, was arrested and charged with criminal mischief in connection with a previous vandalism incident at the church in June. During the earlier incident, Bonilla destroyed framed photos of Pope Francis and Brooklyn Bishop Robert Brennan, spread paint thinner on the basement floor, and donned priestly vestments. He was found hitting himself with a monstrance, a golden vessel used for displaying the eucharistic host, before throwing consecrated eucharistic hosts on the floor.

Bonilla was taken into custody by the police, but subsequently released for evaluation at Elmhurst Hospital, according to the diocese's statement.

The Diocese of Brooklyn expressed gratitude to the parishioners and staff members who intervened in both incidents, ensuring the culprits were detained until the arrival of law enforcement.

It's worth noting that similar acts of vandalism have been reported in other parts of the country. In early June, a 44-year-old woman was arrested in Miami, Florida, for defacing a Catholic church with derogatory words and an upside-down cross. In May, a 41-year-old woman was charged with causing over $78,000 in damages in an arson attack at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines, Illinois.

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