The Tablet Staff
WINDSOR TERRACE — The desecration of a Blessed Virgin Mary statue outside Cathedral Prep School and Seminary on July 10, in which a vandal scrawled the word “IDOL” was just one of several shocking attacks on Catholic churches and institutions across the U.S. in recent days.
Law enforcement authorities are investigating an arson attack on a statue of Mary outside a Boston church and a fire at the San Gabriel mission in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles that appeared to have been deliberately set.
In another incident, a 24-year-old man was arrested and charged with setting a Catholic church in Ocala, Florida on fire on July 11 while parishioners were inside preparing for morning Mass.
The New York Police Department is investigating the vandalism that took place outside Cathedral Prep as a possible hate crime, according to the Diocese of Brooklyn.
Cathedral Prep is located in Elmhurst. The vandalism was discovered by staff members at 7:30 a.m. on July 10. A video surveillance camera captured an image of a person approaching the statue and defacing it by writing the word “IDOL” on the front.
The statue has since been cleaned.
“Today, Cathedral Prep endured an act of hatred. We were victims of vandalism against a beloved statue that is dear to generations of Cathedral students. While just the day prior, a kind stranger placed a beautiful bouquet of flowers in her hands, last night she was defaced with hateful words,” said Father James Kuroly, Class of ’98, rector and president of Cathedral Prep.
There are other incidents across the nation that have shocked and saddened Catholics.
Boston police are investigating an arson attack on a statue of Mary on the night of July 11.
The statue, located outside St. Peter’s Parish in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, had been set on fire and sustained heavy damage, Catholic News Agency reported.
It is believed an unknown individual set fire to plastic flowers in the hands of the statue, causing smoke and flame damage to the fire spread to the face, head, and upper body of the statue, CNA reported.
In a shocking and bizarre incident, a church in Ocala, Florida was set ablaze on the morning of July 11 as parishioners were gathered inside awaiting the start of a morning Mass, CNA reported.
A suspect identified as Stephen Anthony Shields was arrested and charged with attempted murder, arson, burglary, and evading arrest.
The fire took place at Queen of Peace Church in Ocala.
Another fire on July 11, this time at the San Gabriel mission in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, a 249-year-old mission founded by St. Junípero Serra., is under investigation.
The cause of the fire is unknown, but on July 12, the Los Angeles Times reported that agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were investigating the possibility that the fire was an arson attack.
Meanwhile, police in San Diego are investigating a suspicious fire at Calvary Baptist church that took place on July 12, CAN reported.
Calvary Baptist Church is a historically African-American church in San Diego.