Since the horrific Oct. 7 attack by Hamas terrorists against Jews in Israel, hate crimes in New York City have soared 135% as compared to the previous month.
The NYPD reported 101 hate crime incidents in October, up from 43 in September and 45 in October 2022. Police officials also reported eight Islamophobic hate crimes in October, which is a 700% increase over September and 800% increase over last October.
While none of those reports are very surprising given the present circumstances, there has also been a significant rise in vandalism against Catholic churches in the city.
Many statues have been damaged at churches and diocesan sites across the Diocese of Brooklyn, as well as in the Archdiocese of New York, either by breaking all or part of those statues, or defacing them.
This trend of religious intolerance appears to be more broad-based than ever before, even as local police launch investigations in an effort to find the vandals responsible.
Is this all a part of what Pope Francis attributes to “the throwaway culture”?
The pope defined that culture earlier this year: “‘I use you as much as I need you. When I am not interested in you anymore, or you are in my way, I throw you out.’ It is especially the weakest who are treated this way — unborn children, the elderly, the needy, and the disadvantaged.”
“But people are never to be thrown out,” Pope Francis explained. “The disadvantaged cannot be thrown away.
“Every person is a sacred and unique gift, no matter what their age or condition is. Let us always respect and promote life! Let us not throw life away.”
The cheapening of human life is a sin against humanity and we see this sin playing out in the war in the Middle East, where tens of thousands of innocent lives are being lost at the hands of those consumed with animosity or vengeance.
Pope Francis posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Monday Nov. 13: “Every human being, of any people or religion, every human being is sacred, is precious in the eyes of God and has the right to live in peace.
“Let us not lose hope: Let us pray and work tirelessly so that a sense of humanity may prevail over hardness of heart.”
As the holiday season approaches, we should all take pause to heed Pope Francis’ words and strive to find the value in each other and not the differences, which only lead to division and will not unite us.