By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The school kitchen and auditorium at St. Rose of Lima parish in Maywood, California was desecrated this weekend by vandals who scrawled “666” on the walls and caused other damage of a “heinous nature” that police are now calling a hate crime.
According to the California Catholic Daily, police responded to a call from the school on Monday morning and found extensive damage to the kitchen area.
“The suspect(s) defecated in the auditorium (adjacent to the kitchen area) and wrote ‘666’ on areas of the kitchen, and a cross was displayed in a sacrilegious manner,” police said.
The vandals also drove a knife into the face of a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Thankfully, security cameras caught the two men breaking into the kitchen and taped them ravaging the facility for almost an hour and a half. The suspects are not yet in custody.
The Maywood attack is just one of several that have been perpetrated against Catholic churches in California over the last few years.
Just before Christmas last year, vandals smashed a 60 year-old statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary outside Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Woodland. The attack was the third time since 2007 that the church had been targeted.
In April 2009, hours before Easter services were to commence, vandals decapitated a statue of the Blessed Virgin outside Santa Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his family attend.
In January, 2009, vandals spray-painted swastikas and the message “Niederauer, Ratzinger – where is the love” on the front walls of Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in San Francisco.
Even more heinous was an October, 2008 attack on St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Watsonville. In this case, vandals not only stole a safe that had been bolted to the floor, they also broke into the locked tabernacle and took a ciborium containing consecrated hosts.
“Such acts of religious violence, rather than merely vandalism, are felt to be attacks on people’s faith and values by the members of the parishes in which they are perpetrated,” writes Sonja Corbitt for Catholic Online.
“They also serve as grim reminders that what is sacred to some is simply seen by others as an invitation to desecrate, and that in circumstances where the hatred is so obvious, there is nothing more powerful than prayer.”
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