On Thursday, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops reported that churches and Catholic sites had been attacked roughly 100 times since May 2020. Catholic News Agency reports that these houses of worship were destroyed, vandalized, and even set on fire.
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Oklahoma Archbishop Paul Coakley said, in their October 14 statement, that the vandalism attacks "have ranged from the tragic to the obscene, from the transparent to the inexplicable."
Cardinal Dolan is the elected chair of the U.S. bishops' religious liberty committee. Meanwhile, Coakley is the elected chair of the U.S. bishops' domestic justice and human development committee.
The two committees have supported raised funding of a federal non-profit security program, noting the increasing number of attacked parishes.
USCCB Tracks Incidents Since 2020
Since May 2020, the USCCB has been tracking down church attacks, and now, the organization stated there are at least 101 incidents in 29 states.
Graffiti was put on church walls, Catholic statues were either beheaded or smashed, gravestones have been desecrated, and lastly, arson.
Catholic News Agency reported that on October 11, Denver's Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception had been vandalized with graffiti. Phrases like "Satan Lives Here," "White Supremacists," and "Child Rapists, LOL" stained the church.
On September 29, a church located near Boulder, Colorado, had a desecrated incident. Pro-abortion graffiti such as "Jesus [Loves] Abortion," "Bans off our bodies," and "No Wire Hangers Ever" were seen on the parish
It did not stop with vandalism, as other churches had been severely attacked.
A Washington state Catholic Church was set on fire in November 2020. It was an arson case.
In Los Angeles County, the historic Mission San Gabriel Arcángel was destroyed by fire earlier that year. A man in California had been charged with arson in May 2021, which relates to the arson.
The churches across Canada had been found on fire around the 2021 summer season. The police believe it was 'suspicious' or maybe an arson case.
USCCB Chairmen's Statement
The two USCCB chairmen noted that the nation is having an 'extraordinary hour of cultural conflict,' according to Catholic News.
They call to 'contemplate' instead of destroying "images of these examples of God's love."
The USCCB chairmen said that "attacks are signs of a society in need of healing." "We pray for any who have caused it," and are 'remain vigilant' against the attacks, they continued.
Though the chairmen acknowledged numerous reasons for the attacks, they said that these must come to an end. "This is not the way," they noted, Catholic News reports.
They had stated that "we must reach out to the perpetrators with prayers and forgiveness." They also claimed that the motive was payback for their past sins and advised that they needed to 'reconcile.'
Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Coakley added they should provide 'clarity' for their teachings were misunderstood, and it "has caused anger toward us."
Campaign Named "Beauty Heals"
The bishops' religious freedom committee replies to the vandalism incidents by launching "Beauty Heals," a short video campaign.
Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Coakley said that "Beauty Heals" invites people to study 'devotional art' works that are significant to "local churches and how they inspire Catholics to live beautifully," as reported by Catholic News.