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Altar Desecrated By Satanic Vandal Cleansed, Rededicated By UK Bishop

REUTERS/Ted Siefer

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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A U.K. Catholic bishop rededicated an altar in the East of England after a teenage vandal desecrated it with fire and satanic symbols.

Bishop Alan Hopes performed the rededication ceremony on May 31, two months after the satanic attack, at St. Mary’s Church in Norfolk, according to Crux Now. Police arrested a 17-year-old boy shortly after the attack who was seen in security footage setting small fires in the church, burning an icon from the altar, and leaving an image of Baphomet attached to the altar. (RELATED: Suspect In Texas Shooting Posted Disturbing Images Of Guns, Knives, ‘Born To Kill’ Shirt Online)

Father Anthony Nwankwo, the chief priest of St. Mary’s who concelebrated the ceremony and mass with Hopes, said at the time of the incident that the altar and sanctuary would not be used until they could be rededicated. He also said, however, that services would continue, undaunted by the crime.

“I was shocked and saddened when I discovered what had happened. When I looked at the altar I saw this picture of something satanic. My immediate thought was to get some holy water and use it with prayer to nullify what the person had done,” said Nwankwo, according to Crux.

“Our church and sanctuary has been desecrated. We will not close the church but to use the altar and sanctuary we need to go through a service to re-consecrate the area,” he added, according to BBC.

It was the second satanic incident to occur at the church within months. Four months prior to the desecration of the altar, someone came into the church and left another satanic symbol at the foot of the cross at the back of the sanctuary, Nwankwo said. Police treated the latest incident as a hate crime during the investigation.

“It is a clear attack on the church and our religion which is not acceptable. If people do not like what we do here they can just stay away,” Nwankwo said, according to Crux. “Such an attack on our church can never succeed.”

The parish churches would remain open despite the attack, Hopes also said and delivered a message to the attacker via a public statement on the diocesan website.

“I am hoping it is not a hate crime, but whoever did it needs to know that he is already forgiven because that is part of who we are as Christians, but we pray that this won’t happen again,” Hopes said.

Catholic Church law specifies such crimes can desecrate churches and that the church and altar against which such a crime is committed cannot be used again until a bishop performs a special rededication ceremony for them.

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