US Bishops Conference Report 100 Incidents of Vandalism at Catholic Sites in the US Since May 2020 - FULL TEXT

WASHINGTON - In May of 2020, the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty began tracking incidents of arson, vandalism, and other destruction at Catholic sites across the United States. October 10 marked the 100th incident: satanic and other hateful graffiti scrawled on the walls before Sunday Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, Colorado.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement:

“These incidents of vandalism have ranged from the tragic to the obscene, from the transparent to the inexplicable. There remains much we do not know about this phenomenon, but at a minimum, they underscore that our society is in sore need of God’s grace.

“In all cases, we must reach out to the perpetrators with prayer and forgiveness. True, where the motive was retribution for some past fault of ours, we must reconcile; where misunderstanding of our teachings has caused anger toward us, we must offer clarity; but this destruction must stop. This is not the way.

“We call on our elected officials to step forward and condemn these attacks. We thank our law enforcement for investigating these incidents and taking appropriate steps to prevent further harm. We appeal to community members for help as well. These are not mere property crimes – this is the degradation of visible representations of our Catholic faith. These are acts of hate.

The USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty and Committee for Domestic Justice and Human Development previously issued a statement on church vandalism on July 22, 2020.

The Committee for Religious Liberty’s “Beauty Heals” project, launched in response to the destruction of Catholic statues, features videos from various dioceses discussing the significance of sacred art.

The committees are advocating for increased funding for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program.