CJ Doyle, Executive Director


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Vandalism of Churches



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Another Catholic church in Massachusetts has been the target of vandalism. Sometime during the overnight period of Saturday, May 1st, and Sunday, May 2nd, a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at Saint Charles Borromeo Chapel in Waltham was decapitated. The statue, located outside the entrance to the church, suffered further damage with its right hand broken off.

This is the seventh reported act of vandalism directed against a Catholic Church in Greater Boston since the beginning of the year, and the fifteenth such incident in the Commonwealth since 2020.

On March 12th, locks were frozen shut with an unidentified sealant at Saint Teresa's Parish in Dorchester and at Saint Monica's Parish in South Boston. A statue of the Virgin Mary at Saint Monica's was also toppled and smashed. The same statue at Saint Monica's was knocked over on March 5th.

Eggs and trash were hurled at the doors of Saint Teresa's on three occasions in January. On two occasions in July of 2020, a garbage barrel was placed over the head of a statue of the Virgin Mary at Saint Teresa's. On the night of the first incident, a statue of the Virgin Mary was the object of arson a mile away at Saint Peter's Parish in Dorchester.

In August of 2020, two Molotov cocktails were hurled at the doors of Sacred Heart Church in Weymouth. Twice, in September and December of 2020, historic stained glass windows in Saint Mary's Cathedral in Fall River suffered costly damage from projectiles. In July of 2020, a statue of the Virgin was stolen from the Nazareth Home in Leicester.

In April of 2020, rocks were thrown through stained glass windows at Holy Family Church in Rockland.

No one has been arrested for any of these crimes.

The Catholic Action League called the latest incident "further compelling evidence of the dramatic escalation in the number and frequency of attacks on Catholic churches and religious iconography in Massachusetts."

Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle made the following comment: "When the League began tracking these crimes in 2012, they occurred, on average, about once a year. Now, they are being perpetrated at an average of one a month. The numbers quadrupled between 2016 and 2020, and have now quadrupled again between 2020 and 2021. I think it is quite reasonable to say that we are facing a growing epidemic of Catholic church vandalisms in the Bay State."

"Attorney General Maura Healey, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy must denounce this incident as the hate crime and constitutional rights violation which it is, and take meaningful steps to ensure that the perpetrator is identified, arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated. Governor Charlie Baker, who controls the State Police, must also act."

"When an African American Baptist Church in Everett was vandalized on April 29th, the Mayor of Everett, immediately and appropriately, denounced the incident as a hate crime. No such condemnations have been forthcoming after a year and more than a dozen such incidents directed against Catholic churches in Massachusetts."

While the pastor of Saint Charles Borromeo is to be commended for promptly reporting the vandalism to authorities, the Archdiocese of Boston, over the last year, has failed to demand accountability from police, prosecutors and political leaders. It is time for Cardinal O'Malley to address this issue."

Contact the Catholic Action League