Churches burned and statues of Mary vandalized in Catholic churches across U.S.

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The Catholic Church in the United States experienced a series of attacks this weekend all over the country.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles saw a fire in an eighteenth-century mission church, San Gabriel, founded in 1771 by St. Junipero Serra. Firefighters responded to the call at 4:24 a.m. on Saturday, July 11.

Archbishop José Gomez tweeted about the fire, asking for the intercession of St. Junipero.

St. Junipero has become a point of attack during recent protests in the United States. The Spanish Franciscan priest converted thousands of native Californians to Christianity. Pope Francis canonized him while in the United States in 2015, recalling how the saint “defended the dignity of the native community.”

Meanwhile, in Ocala, FL, the Marion County Sheriff's office reported someone set fire to Queen of Peace church just before Sunday morning Mass on July 12. 

The police allegedly found a car crashed into the front of the church. The suspect then poured gasoline in the narthex and lit it on fire, before escaping in the same vehicle. No parishioners were wounded. The suspect was arrested and is in Marion County jail on no bond.

The Boston Police Department is currently investigating an arson of a statue of the Blessed Mother at St. Peter's Parish Church in Dorchester on Saturday, July 11. They report an unknown suspect lit the plastic flowers in the Madonna's hands on fire, resulting in burning on the statue's face and upper body. 

Another statue of Mary was vandalized on Friday, June 10 at 3:09 a.m. at Cathedral Prep School and Seminary in New York. The statue, which had been at the entrance of the all-boys school for more than 100 years, had the word “IDOL” written on its front. It was cleaned Friday morning by staff. The Diocese of Brooklyn announced that the New York Police Department is currently investigating the case. 

These acts of vandalism come as Catholics are returning to churches in many states, after the lockdown and closure of parishes due to coronavirus. The actions also coincide with protests and the removal of various historical statues across the United States, spurred by the death of George Floyd.

Melissa Butz

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