Washington D.C., Oct 21, 2021 / 15:00 pm (CNA).
Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver denounced recent incidents of “anti-Semitic and hateful vandalism” that occurred at two area schools last weekend.
“I condemn the recent incidents of anti-Semitic and hateful vandalism at George Washington High School, and the property destruction at Denver Academy of the Torah,” Aquila said in an Oct. 20 statement. “These acts have absolutely no place in our society, and we stand in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters.”
The Denver Post reported that George Washington High School, a public school, was vandalized with graffiti containing racist and anti-Semitic messages, according to the school’s principal, Kristin Waters. The incident is being investigated by the school district and the Denver Police, and the graffiti has been removed.
At the nearby Denver academy of the Torah, a Jewish day school, a rock was thrown through one of its windows and an electrical box inside was found damaged, the Post reported. According to the Anti Defamation League, a witness confronted the suspect who allegedly made an anti-Semitic statement before leaving the scene.
Police are investigating the incident, and are in the process of determining if the two incidents were related.
“These acts have absolutely no place in our society, and we stand in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters,” Aquila said on Wednesday.
In recent weeks, Denver’s Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and a Catholic church in nearby Boulder were both vandalized with spray paint.
The cathedral doors were defaced with the slogan “Satan lives here” on Oct. 10, and the outside walls, sidewalks and a statue on the property were all spray-painted. The parish of Sacred Heart of Mary in Boulder was vandalized in September with pro-abortion slogans.
Aquila thanked the Jewish Community Relations Council and the ADL Mountain States Region for speaking out against recent acts of vandalism against churches in the diocese, and for offering their support.
“As brothers and sisters in faith,” he said, “I acknowledge our common bonds and desire to be able to worship freely without fear of attack or intimidation in its many forms.”
Aquila added that even in a “divided and pluralistic society,” committing acts of violence and hate “are never the answer to our differences.”
“I pray for an end to these attacks, heading for the impacted communities, and that God’s love will be known by anyone who feels compelled to commit these acts,” he said.
Aquila called on local elected officials to denounce the recent acts of vandalism.
“Finally,” he said, “we are grateful to the police departments that have responded to these incidents, and to the numerous community members who, regardless of their beliefs, have reached out to our parishes and offered support and help in cleaning up after these attacks.”
Other incidents of vandalism and theft have occurred at churches in Northern Colorado in recent months.
St. Louis parish in Louisville, Colorado was vandalized with pro-abortion graffiti in early September.
In late August, the predominantly African-American parish of Curé d’Ars, located in north Denver, was targeted for burglary. All the church’s vessels used for Mass were stolen from the vestry, which the thieves accessed by kicking in a wooden door. The thieves also cut out copper piping, flooding the church basement with water. By late September, some of the stolen items – including the tabernacle and church vessels – were found; stolen consecrated hosts had not yet been recovered and were “obviously dumped,” according to the parish deacon.
In June, Holy Ghost Catholic Church in downtown Denver was tagged with red graffiti in a possible reference to the ongoing controversy over former Catholic-run schools for Indigenous in Canada, though the exact motive remains unclear.
The U.S. bishops’ conference on Oct. 14 reported that churches and Catholic sites have been targeted in more than 100 acts of vandalism, arson, and other destruction since May 2020. The conference began tracking such attacks on churches in May 2020, and now says that at least 101 incidents have occurred in 29 states since then.
“These incidents of vandalism have ranged from the tragic to the obscene, from the transparent to the inexplicable. There remains much we do not know about this phenomenon, but at a minimum, they underscore that our society is in sore need of God’s grace,” stated Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City on Thursday, Oct. 14.
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