Catholics are no strangers to the desecration and destruction of their houses of worship, though it has dramatically dissipated since the heyday of the Ku Klux Klan decades ago. Sadly, within recent weeks, Catholic Churches have become targets of vandals. As Francis X. Rocca reports in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:
Parishioners and clergy were shocked and grieving following a spate of vandalism at Catholic churches in various U.S. cities in recent weeks.
“We have to be very vigilant in making sure that this doesn’t get legs and continue,” said Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops committee for religious liberty, in an interview. “We have to be as vigilant as our Jewish brothers are vigilant against instances of anti-Semitism.”
The most violent incident was at Queen of Peace Church in Ocala, Fla., about 75 miles northwest of Orlando. Police say a man set fire to the church on July 11 while several parishioners were inside preparing for morning Mass.
“This white van came towards me, did a U-turn, jumped the pavement and crashed into, broke into the two front doors of the church. He’d gotten inside the narthex, put ten gallons of gasoline on the floor, set it on fire and came out. And I was face to face with him like this. And he jumped into his car and off he sped,” said the Rev. Patrick J. O’Doherty, the pastor, in a YouTube video posted on the parish website.
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office said police had arrested Steven Anthony Shields, 24 years old , and charged him with attempted second-degree murder and arson, among other felonies, and were holding him in the county jail without bond. An attempt to reach Mr. Shields through the sheriff’s office was unsuccessful.
Read it all here.