At least 67 incidents occurred across 25 states since May 2020. The causes of the fire at Mission San Gabriel Arcángel in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the fire at St. Charles Catholic School in the Diocese of Spokane are still unknown. Incidents include arson, statues beheaded, limbs cut, smashed, and painted, gravestones defaced with swastikas and anti-Catholic language and American flags next to them burned, and other destruction and vandalism.
Statement, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, chairman, Committee on Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, statement, “Bishop Chairmen Condemn Acts of Vandalism, Destruction at Catholic Sites,” July 22, 2020 http://usccb.org/news/2020/20-123.cfm
The recent vandalism of churches and their sacred art gives us the opportunity to bear witness to our hope in the Lord whose beauty is revealed on the Cross. Beauty Heals invites us to learn about works of devotional art significant to local churches and how they inspire Catholics to live beautifully.
June 22: At a Catholic college’s on-campus cemetery for deceased priests who taught at the school, a man defaced gravestones by painting swastikas and anti-Catholic language, burned some American flags that were next to the graves, and assaulted a college security guard (Providence College, Providence, RI)
“A man who believes he encountered Gomera [the suspect who was arrested and ‘charged with vandalism and assault with intent to commit a felony’] before the assault told local NBC affiliate WJAR that Gomera was carrying a bucket of paint and accused Providence College of “being part of the slave plantations” and said he was going to light an American flag on fire. Providence College was founded in 1917, several decades after the Emancipation Proclamation, and nearly a century after the abolition of slavery in Rhode Island.”
Statement by Providence College President, Rev. Brian J. Shanley, OP, and President-elect, Rev. Kenneth R. Sicard, OP: “…we condemn this action in support and solidarity with the Jewish members of our community, many of whom enjoyed the friendship of those late Dominican friars. PC has a long and proud history of collaboration with the Jewish community in Rhode Island. Our Jewish-Catholic Theological Exchange is a significant part of campus life, and has promoted interreligious learning, understanding, and friendship between Christians and Jews for decades.” https://news.providence.edu/statement-on-vandalism-at-dominican-cemetery