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Hate Crime: Historic Catholic Church Vandalized

Authorities are looking for vandals who scrawled anti-Catholic slogans on the walls of historic Holy Cross Church in Santa Cruz, California, and broke into the church where they damaged a baptismal font that was a gift from Blessed Junipero Serra, founder of the California missions.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel is reporting that the damage was discovered by a custodian early in the morning of May 7.  The perpetrators shattered windows and spray painted walls, doors, sidewalks and statues. Because some of the graffiti contained anti-church slogans, police are investigating it as a hate crime.

The vandals were very thorough in their attack, targeting every part of the historic church which was founded in 1791. Also hit were the museum, the adjacent Siena House which serves pregnant women, a garden and chapel. Paint was poured on statues of Junipero Serra and the Blessed Virgin Mary and the culprits even went as far as climbing on the roof to deface the bell tower.

But the most disturbing damage was done to a baptismal font that was brought to Santa Cruz by Blessed Junipero. The priceless font was broken into several pieces and it is not yet known if it can be repaired.

"They got a little bit of everything," said Warren Hoy, a spokesman for the Diocese of Monterey. "They were so thorough, that is why I keep saying 'they.' They took some time to do all this."

The worst part of the attack was that much of what was damaged were cultural artifacts.

" . . . (T)hey were not just attacking the church," Hoy said. "It's the history of it."

The mission has been attacked before. Because it's the most famous church in the area, it's somewhat of a lightening rod.

" . . . (S)o if you want to do something to the Church, with a capital C, you attack the Catholic Church, and when you do, you attack Holy Cross," Hoy said.

While the diocese is working with police to find the perpetrators, Hoy said they are also praying for them.

"They are obviously in a lot of pain and with any luck they will repent and turn themselves in."

The vandals also damaged a video surveillance camera that was guarding the premises, but police say the image of at least one person was captured on film before the damage was done. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®

Photos by ABC7