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Cardinal Dolan laments attacks on houses of worship in Religious Freedom Day message

Remains of statues vandalized at Our Lady of Mercy parish in New York City, July17, 2021. Credit: Diocese of Brooklyn.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 15, 2022 / 12:47 pm (CNA).

Attacking houses of worship and religious art is akin to attacking the community who prays there, said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York ahead of Religious Freedom Day, observed Jan. 16.

“For nearly two years, the U.S. bishops have noticed a disturbing trend of Catholic churches being vandalized and statues being smashed,” said Dolan in a statement released Jan. 14 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Dolan is the chairman of the USCCB’s religious liberty committee.

“We are not alone. Our friends from other faith groups experience these outbursts too, and for some communities, they occur far more frequently,” he said.

“An attack on a house of worship is certainly an assault on the particular community that gathers there. It is also an attack on the founding principle of America as a place where all people can practice their faith freely,” said Dolan. “And it is an attack on the human spirit, which yearns to know the truth about God and how to act in light of the truth.”

Dolan praised the “great tradition of religious freedom” in the United States, which has “allowed beauty to flourish,” for the benefit of all.

Religious Freedom Day commemorates the 1786 passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, “to protect the right of individual conscience and religious exercise and to prohibit the compulsory support of any church.”

Dolan said in his statement that “Diverse religious communities have built beautiful houses of worship, adorned with stained glass, statues, and symbols of faith, in earthly reflection of the glory and majesty of God.”

“In the midst of a popular culture that too often caters to our basest appetites, sacred art and architecture calls all of us to think about ultimate things. All Americans benefit from these religious displays.”

Religious art, said Dolan, “reminds us that we live most fully when we direct our lives toward our Creator and our neighbors.” The destruction of this art and other sacred things, he explained, “degrades our life together and harms the common good.”

Recently, a statue of Our Lady of Fatima at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, was defaced by a vandal. In response to the vandalism, and in honor of National Religious Freedom Day, the shrine will be hosting a rosary on Jan. 16. In the statement, Dolan  encouraged all Catholics to join in and pray the rosary on Sunday, “as we pray that all religious communities would be free to worship without fear and to continue to bless this great country.”

“On this National Religious Freedom Day, let us resolve to promote religious freedom for all people, and to honor the place of the sacred both in our lives and our landscapes,” he said.

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  1. When hierarchs jump into bed with the secular atheist bourgeois dominant culture and its political representatives, the least you can expect is the demolishing of statues. It’s merely a prelude to the real agenda – the total elimination of religion that carries with it a distinct moral dimension. (Are there no mirrors in the Cardinal’s residence on 5th Avenue?)

  2. So, Cardinal Dolan proposes respect for statues. I agree that the symbols of religious beliefs should be protected. However, the good Cardinal has told the priests in his archdiocese that they are not allowed to protect the consciences of their parishioners by signing letters supporting their sincerely-held religious conscience exemption from the currently available “vaccines,” all of which are connected to decades-old abortions (there is no statute of limitations on murder) by their use of fetal cell lines created by tissues and organs taken from the babies who were murdered by “doctors.” Protect the statues and buildings from graffiti, but your conscience is not important enough to be protected from immorally researched, developed, produced and/or tested “vaccines.” Even though only God can attest to my conscience, it is nice to have an exemption letter signed by my archbishop, because those who won’t listen to my objections may honor his title. As a member of the lowerarchy, I appreciate his willingness to lend his hierarchical support for my beliefs. Protect the statues. Forget the people.

  3. Catholic churches need to start investing in some good quality security cameras. Then they have to resolve to prosecute to the fullest extent possible, those who are caught vandalizing our churches. I am sure everyone would like to think these acts are carried out by folks who are mentally ill. Its more acceptable than believing how much actual hate some people carry around inside them. Adding to this is the all too common reaction to these crimes by prosecutors: ” It’s not being treated as a hate crime.” Punishment has become an unpopular word in leftist circles these days and it’s time it is brought back unto use. Some people actually DO learn from their mistakes, assuming they are not just patted on the head and allowed to go scot-free with no penalty for their actions. Newly elected Manhattan DA Alan Bragg for example, has announced he will not bother prosecuting anyone other than murderers. So if your life, safety, freedom and practice of religion is damaged or suppressed, oh well. For this situation I do not blame the person who ran for office while SAYING EXACTLY what he was planning to do , for which he gets cash, power and prestige. I blame the loose screws who VOTED HIM INTO OFFICE. Disgusting and irresponsible.

    • “Newly elected Manhattan DA Alan Bragg for example, has announced he will not bother prosecuting anyone other than murderers.”

      Most likely it does not even enter into this mindless Manhattan DA Alan Bragg that the mass murders of pre-born children have committed a crime – the crime of mass murder! Just serve him another vodka on the rocks.

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