Republican lawmakers demand DOJ act on anti-Catholic attacks

Edie Heipel   By Edie Heipel for CNA


The altar of St. Augustine Catholic Church in Brooklyn, New York, was damaged by vandals in May 2022. / DeSales Media Group

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 31, 2022 / 16:05 pm (CNA).

A group of Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday condemning what they described as the Department of Justice’s inaction over the steady rise of anti-Catholic attacks and hate crimes.

The letter, authored by Rep. Lisa McClain of Michigan, who is Catholic, and co-signed by 19 other GOP members, called out Garland’s failure to respond to the increase in vandalism and other attacks on Catholic churches and institutions since May 2020.

“Millions of Christians are under assault for merely exercising their constitutional right to freely practice their religion,” the letter reads. “We are forced to wonder if your Department of Justice will ever address the over one hundred crimes against Christian holy sites in America.”

One such crime happened in May of this year when a tabernacle was stolen from inside St. Augustine Church in Brooklyn, New York. The Holy Eucharist was also desecrated and statues on either side of the tabernacle were decapitated.

McClain’s letter cites a tracker maintained by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) documenting more than 160 attacks against the Catholic Church, a number that has steadily risen since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24.

This includes “arson, statues beheaded, limbs cut, smashed, and painted, gravestones defaced with swastikas and anti-Catholic language and American flags next to them burned, and other destruction and vandalism,” the USCCB website states.

Earlier this year, CNA began tracking vandalism attacks against Catholic churches, pro-life pregnancy centers, maternity homes, and other pro-life organizations since the potential reversal of Roe v. Wade was leaked to the media in May. CNA has recorded 94 such incidents. CNA’s list does not include anti-Catholic crimes that do not have a clear pro-abortion intent.

The letter cites the DOJ’s refusal to acknowledge the “blatant acts of violence committed by groups such as Antifa” and that under Garland’s leadership, the DOJ “persecuted Americans for speaking out at school board meetings and harassed peaceful protesters by investigating them for domestic terrorism.”

“Americans are watching in horror as your DOJ fails to respond to the violence threatening religious freedom across the country and wondering why certain criminals seem to always avoid your interest,” the letter adds.

McClain was joined by Republican Reps. Jim Banks, Louie Gohmert, Bob Good, and Mary Miller, among others.

“Enough is enough, anti-Catholic hate crimes cannot go unaccounted for,” McClain said Tuesday in a tweet. “I’m leading the effort to demand answers from @TheJusticeDept about their refusal to uphold religious freedom and defend Christian Americans from violent attacks.”

The letter requests a response from Garland by Sept. 20 detailing how the DOJ plans to take action against the rise of anti-Catholic crimes in America. A DOJ spokesperson was not immediately available Wednesday afternoon.

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    • Absolutely. I listened to a Bishop the other day who said he believes blood will be shed (martyrdom) he also stated The help of God is closer than the door.

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