Catholics Respond to Vandalism with Compassion After Fearing Attacks on Religious Freedom

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Media, Queens, NY, Vandalism, Vandals

By Jessica Easthope

Father Miroslaw Podymniak can give a tour of all the places around St. Adalbert’s that have been vandalized. Graffiti on two walls and the latest incident – a statue of Our Lady of Angels destroyed.

“People are looking for consolation and are looking to support the Church and the Church itself is being hit by envy, by people who are looking to make the situation worse,” said Fr. Miroslaw.

The statue was repaired for free, but not every church that’s had a sacred object damaged has been so lucky. A statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe outside the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Solace Church in Coney Island, Brooklyn had to be replaced. Last September a man was caught on surveillance video, hurling this $7,000 original to the ground. And at St. Athanasius in Bensonhurst someone tore down a crucifix.

These are just a few examples of the vandalism that’s happened not only in the Diocese of Brooklyn, but across the country. The harmful acts – attacks on the objects themselves, but now many fear it’s part of a larger attack on religious freedom.

“We have statues outside, beautiful buildings to show our faith and have a space for people to come and worship together and that is being taken from us,” said Fr. Miroslaw.

During Religious Freedom Week, Catholics are called to respond to aggression with compassion – something parishioners at St. Adalbert’s are finding in their hearts.

“I said please enlighten the mind of the person who did this because whatever he did he didn’t know that it is wrong,” said Lita Santiago.

St. Adalbert’s is having cameras installed around the statue in the garden this weekend, hoping it prevents another attack.