By Emily Drooby
Baby Jesus’s head broken off: it’s the second act of vandalism in the Diocese of Brooklyn this week. Now, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio is calling for big changes.
“Any statue that’s exposed outside, should be lit at night, and also have a camera focused on it,” the bishop said. “So that will deter people and if we can catch someone.”
The latest incident happened right outside the Brooklyn Diocese administrative offices.
“It’s clear they deliberately went after the head of the baby Jesus,” explained Msgr. Anthony Hernandez, as he showed Currents News the damage.
The statue depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary holding Jesus. It’s a very thick stone and all of the damage was really localized to the head.
“Well it’s disturbing, absolutely,” the monsignor said, “and we want to make sure that our people are safe and their religious traditions are respected and preserved.”
It’s the second attack in a week. In the first incident, an image of Christ on the cross was torn down at St. Athanasius Church in Bensonhurst.
The cross has special meaning to the church’s pastor, Msgr. David Cassato.
“It was put up there in 2010 in memory of my mother who passed in 2009,” he said.
An American flag was also burned, according to authorities.
Bishop DiMarzio said the increased amount of incidents is distressing.
“It’s obviously distressing and unfortunate that we are seeing so many incidents of destruction of sacred images that are really important to our faith,” he said.
Police released video of the suspect in the St. Athanasius Church vandalism. No one has been arrested in either incident. The diocese is asking priests to be alert and for the NYPD to increase patrols around churches.
“Basic tenant of our faith is to forgive, so we forgive, but at the same time, it doesn’t mean we retreat,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “We have to stick to our guns and do what we think is important for our faith.”
Both the statue and crucifix vandalism are being investigated by the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force. Msgr. Hernandez said the question arises if it’s anti-Catholic hate.
“Well, you wonder if it’s an act of anti-Catholic hatred,” he said. “I’ve been in other parishes where statues have been vandalized, but this seemed very deliberate. It seemed like there was more intent to this one.”
The diocese does have the statue of baby Jesus’ head, which was found by the facilities manager. They’re already working towards repairing the statue to its original form.
If you have any information on who may have damaged the statue or crucifix, call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.