Recently, there were multiple attacks on Catholic Churches and monuments across the country. Early in the morning on Saturday, July 10, the 249-year-old San Gabriel Mission was set ablaze. The cause is unclear but investigators have not yet ruled out arson. Two other attacks came in the form of vandalizing statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Boston and New York. In Boston, the statue of Our Lady was set on fire. In Brooklyn, someone spray painted “IDOL” down the front of the Blessed Mother. In Florida, a man drove his minivan into the facade of the Our Lady, Queen of Peace parish in Ocala during a Mass on Saturday evening.
According to ABC News, he “doused the foyer with gasoline and set it on fire, causing extensive damage … Shields told detectives what he did was ‘awesome,’ and he smiled and laughed, the affidavit said. He told detectives he was ‘on a mission,’ called himself [a] ‘king’ and that he has problems with the Catholic Church and referenced passages in the Bible’s Book of Revelations.”
Luckily, no one was hurt.
The motivations of the Florida attack are unclear, but it is worth discussing due to the string of other attacks that occurred at the same time. Two other incidents occurred during the middle of the week. According to Fox News, “A statue of Jesus Christ was decapitated and knocked off a pedestal … at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Southwest Miami-Dade.” On July 16, in New Haven, Connecticut, Satanic imagery was discovered spray-painted on St. Joseph’s Church according to NBC Connecticut.
No incident exemplifies the woke mob’s newly expressed antipathy towards Catholicism better than their reaction to a story released by the AP on July 10. The story claimed that the, “The U.S. Roman Catholic Church used a special and unprecedented exemption from federal rules to amass at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid.” The problem with that claim is that the U.S. Roman Catholic Church is not an organization. It is an amalgamation of individual dioceses and parishes—all of whom employ everyday Americans.
The article in question was not framed that way and was the subject of immense outrage on Twitter and elsewhere. This is yet another example of a sensationalistic broadside of the Catholic Church. The AP’s story added fuel to the mob’s dumpster fire.
The mob’s behavior devolved from Twitter fights to assault and vandalism. These attacks come in the wake of other attacks. In late June and early July, statues of of St. Junipero Serra, the friar who founded the San Gabriel Mission, and St. Louis IX whom the city of St. Louis takes its name from, were vandilized. These incidents have all been directed at Catholic monuments and houses of worship, but they are motivated by a more insidious ideology than simple anti-Catholic bigotry.
The mob’s movement to rename the city of St. Louis, Missouri advocates removing the statue of St. Louis as well. They claim that, “[King Louis IX] was a rabid anti-Semite who spearheaded many persecutions against the Jewish people. Centuries later Nazi Germany gained inspiration and ideas from Louis IX as they embarked on a campaign of murderous genocide against the Jewish people. Louis IX was also vehemently Islamophobic and led a murderous crusade against Muslims which ultimately cost him his life.”
Kevin D. Williamson wrote a piece in National Review defending the 13th century monarch and the Archdiocese of St. Louis released a statement. I implore you to read both defenses. But, if you don’t, just understand that viewing a man who lived in the 1200s through a 2020 lens is a poor way to judge history or the merits of men of the past.
St. Junipero Serra has also been subject to attacks. Across California, statues of the saint have been removed or torn down. The attacks against Serra have been leveled over the unfair treatment of natives that occurred in his missions. Again, this is historical revisionism to the highest degree. While there was mistreatment of natives, St. Junipero Serra took no part in it. He even dedicated his life to serving the indigineous population.
It is important to see what is happening in regards to the attitudes around the faith in the United States. It is also important for Catholics to respond charitably. My favorite response to the weekend’s attacks came from Fr. Currie, the pastor of St. Peter’s parish in Dorchester, Massachusetts. This is where one of the attacks on a statue of the Virgin Mary occurred. Fr. Currie said, “This person may be troubled and we don’t want to add to trouble in the world or your life. We want to be an instrument of healing for your reconciliation.”
Forgiveness is a key teaching of Christianity and, in the wake of these attacks, forgiving is what Christians need to be.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.