Religious Freedom Week Shines Light on Anti-Catholic Vandalism| National Catholic Register

arishes across the U.S. have reported beheaded statues, broken crosses and murals, graffiti and other forms of vandalism in a wave of ugly incidents over the past year, leading the country’s Catholic bishops to highlight it during their just-completed Religious Freedom Week 2021.  “The precise reasons for these attacks are often unknown,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said for June 25, the day dedicated to church vandalism in Religious Freedom Week. “In some cases, they are tied to anger at perceived injustices from the past. Other cases may involve mental illness. In all cases, Catholics must remember that we worship the Lord who reveals the truth and beauty of the gospel in his suffering and resurrection, and that we are called to respond to aggression with compassion.”  At least 75 attacks on Catholic properties have occurred since May 2020, according to a USCCB page that tracks media reports of church property damage. The USCCB page records incidents in 24 states. Nearly half the listed incidents involved damage to a statue on church grounds, with about one out of six incidents involving arson or possible arson.  Another incident occurred on June 28, when a church in Denver was defaced with graffiti that appeared to have a possible relationship to the controversy in Canada over gravesites found recently at former government-owned residential schools for Indigenous people that were operated by Catholics. Aaron Weldon, program specialist on the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, told the Register his committee began following vandalism at churches last year after several high-profile attacks. “We always try to include a range of different topics relevant to religious freedom and thought this was a good year to include it and raise awareness about it,” he said.  Weldon said it has been difficult to point to a definitive reason underlying the attacks because “the motivations seem to be so varied,” he said.  “In some cases, it’s been connected to protests about past injustices or perceived injustices. Sometimes there might be general anger against the Church, and in other cases, there is no reason at all,” Weldon said. 

Religious Freedom Week Shines Light on Anti-Catholic Vandalism| National Catholic Register

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