Brooklyn diocese requests greater police presence outside churches, after acts of vandalism
The Diocese of Brooklyn is requesting increased police presence after two incidents of vandalism in three days at church properties.
Over the weekend, a statue depicting the Blessed Mother holding the infant Jesus was discovered vandalized outside the diocesan administrative offices, with Jesus decapitated. On the 14th of May, a crucifix display outside St. Athanasius parish in Brooklyn was found toppled over, with an American flag outside the rectory burned.
“We are definitely concerned that there is a pattern of hate crimes against Catholics. There was a hate crime at a Bensonhurst parish on Friday morning and now, just a few days later, this act of hatred has been discovered at the Diocesan offices,” said Msgr. Anthony Hernandez, the moderator of the curia for the diocese, in a statement on Monday.
Hernandez said that churches will be notified to be on the alert for vandalism, and that the diocese is requesting that the NYPD patrol areas around churches.
“Hatred and intolerance of the Catholic faith, and for that matter any faith, has no place here,” he said.
The two acts of vandalism are being investigated as potential hate crimes. The diocesan administrative offices are located in the Windsor Terrace section of Brooklyn, while St. Athanasius parish is located in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn.
The crucifix display at St. Athanasius was installed in 2010 in commemoration of the mother of the current pastor, Monsignor David Cassato. The monsignor discovered the vandalism on Friday morning while walking. He said the damage done to the crucifix was “truly an act of hatred.”
“Today is the saddest day of my twenty years here at this parish,” said Msgr. David Cassato on Friday.
A facilities manager discovered the decapitated statue outside the diocesan offices, and reported the incident to police. The diocese says it is working to repair the statue in its current form, while the parish says it intends to repair and reinstall the crucifix in the same location.
A prayer vigil was held Friday night outside St. Athanasius; the parish claimed that hundreds attended, praying for the perpetrator of the vandalism.