Any arrests so far in attacks on Catholic churches and pro-life pregnancy centers? Here’s what we know

Joe Bukuras By Joe Bukuras for CNA

Vandalism at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Philadelphia, June 25, 2022. / Fr. Hyacinth Cordell, OP

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 20, 2022 / 16:07 pm (CNA).

An arrest has been made in connection with the arson and vandalism of both a Catholic church and a Methodist church in Bethesda, Maryland, that occurred on July 9 and July 10.

Peter Piringer, a spokesman for the Montgomery County fire department, said that charges have been filed against a juvenile and will be handled in juvenile court, the Washington Post reported.

Father Samuel Giese, pastor of St. Jane Frances de Chantal Catholic Church, told his parishioners the day after the vandalism at Sunday Mass, that he believed the attack was aimed at the church because of its pro-life views.

The attack on the Bethesda parish is one of dozens of acts of vandalism and arson that have targeted Catholic churches and pro-life pregnancy centers across the nation in recent months since reports began circling that Roe v. Wade would be struck down by the Supreme Court — which happened June 24. That ruling delegated authority to the states to regulate abortion.

Some arrests have been made in connection with the vandalism. Here’s what we know so far:

  • No arrest has been made yet in the burning down of the pro-life pregnancy center Compass Care in Amherst, New York — a suburb of Buffalo — according to the center’s CEO, Jim Harden.

After the June 7 fire, the center posted photos on its Facebook page showing the building’s windows shattered, an office burned and heavily damaged, and the words “Jane was here” spray-painted on the side of the building.

CompassCare, a pro-life pregnancy center near Buffalo, New York, was heavily damaged by fire and spray-painted with pro-abortion graffiti on June 7, 2022. CompassCare
CompassCare, a pro-life pregnancy center near Buffalo, New York, was heavily damaged by fire and spray-painted with pro-abortion graffiti on June 7, 2022. CompassCare
  • On June 28, St. Louise Catholic Church in Bellevue, Washington, was violently attacked by a masked perpetrator with pro-abortion and anti-Catholic graffiti and a rock. The attack was caught on video and can be seen here.

Shortly after the attack, police arrived at the scene and arrested Maeve J. Nota who had left church grounds and was identified by a church staff member, a police report shows. Nota was charged with a hate crime and malicious mischief, according to the report.

  • St. Colman Catholic Church, a little white and historic building in Raleigh County, West Virginia, was burned to the ground June 26.

West Virginia State Police announced that three perpetrators were arrested in connection with the fire, WTRF.com reported.

The charred remains of St. Colman Catholic Church in Shady Spring, West Virginia, which was destroyed in a suspected arson attack on Sunday, June 26, 2022. Courtesy of Beaver Volunteer Fire Department
The charred remains of St. Colman Catholic Church in Shady Spring, West Virginia, which was destroyed in a suspected arson attack on Sunday, June 26, 2022. Courtesy of Beaver Volunteer Fire Department

The State Police say they arrested and charged a juvenile and 18-year-old Braxton Allan Miller of Charleston with arson and conspiracy, WRRF.com reported. The third perpetrator, 19-year-old James Dean Elmore of Beckley, was charged with accessory after the fact and conspiracy, the outlet reported. It’s unclear what their motives were.

  • LifeChoice pregnancy center in Winter Haven, Florida, has not received news of any arrest after its building was defaced with pro-abortion graffiti June 25, according to Lyndsy Flanagan, Director of Development for LifeChoices.

Photos from the attack show graffiti spelling out the words “Janes revenge,” “Jane was here” “Abortion 4 all,” “Your time is up,” “We’re coming for you,” “We are everywhere,” some flowers, and anarchist symbols. The vandals also painted over security cameras and the clinic’s sign. The graffiti was cleaned by volunteers and the sign was replaced by a generous donor, Director Flanagan said Wednesday.

  • Two arrests were made in connection with spray-painting of pro-abortion graffiti at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in North Cape May, New Jersey, according to The Press of Atlantic City.

One of the church’s signs was spray-painted with graffiti that said “defenestrate babies” and “Hail” with a star next to it, according to the outlet.

Police said 33-year-old Patrick W. Rosenkrans and 36-year-old Jennifer M. Paul were arrested and charged, the outlet reported. Both are currently residents in the Villas section of Lower Township, the outlet reported.

  • A suspect was arrested in a July 15 vandalism of two statues at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Long Beach, Mississippi, the church’s parochial vicar, Father Vincent Ajayi, told CNA Wednesday.

Ajayi told CNA the man was homeless and was saying that Catholics should not worship idols as he toppled a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and an angel. Ajayi and other members from the church prayed a rosary around the desecrated space and prayed for the man, he said.

Police told CNA Wednesday the man arrested is Matthew Seis and is in his mid-40s. He is being charged with a felony of malicious mischief, police said.


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