Police detained a man after he allegedly decapitated a statue of Jesus inside a Catholic Church in El Paso, Texas, the church reported.
The man allegedly walked into St. Patrick Cathedral on Tuesday and destroyed an almost 90-year-old statue of Jesus behind the main altar of the church, the El Paso Catholic Diocese said in an Instagram post with photos of the statue.
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We are saddened to announce the vandalism at St. Patrick Cathedral earlier today. The Cathedral was vandalized this morning at around 10:00am. A suspect came into the sanctuary at St. Patrick Cathedral and destroyed the almost 90-year-old statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was located in the center behind the main altar of the church. The church was open and available for prayer. A suspect has been detained by the El Paso Police department. The police are currently continuing their investigation into the vandalism. The Rector of St. Patrick Cathedral, Fr. Trini Fuentes, said, “I am in shock and we at the Cathedral are heartbroken over such an unexpected situation.” Bishop Seitz also expressed his sadness about the damage caused to the historic Sacred Heart of Jesus Statue. “This statue is one of my favorite representations of Jesus—his arms open wide in welcome, his heart aflame with love for us. I would often take inspiration from this image as I prepared for Mass.” “As sad as I am to see a statue attacked and destroyed, I am grateful that it was not a living person,” Bishop Seitz added. “But a statue, particularly this statue, concretizes and connects us to persons and ideals that are not visible to our eyes. They reveal to us realities that are close to us, but unseen,” he said. “At this point we do not know anything about the person who carried out this assault, but he certainly must be a person who is greatly disturbed to have attacked this peaceful place in our city and this image of the King of Peace. I hope this might be the impetus for him to receive the help he needs. He will be in my prayers,” Bishop Seitz added. “I am devastated at this irreplaceable loss as I know members of this parish community and the whole Church of El Paso will be. In this moment we will reach out in confidence to the One this statue represented and I know he will console us,” Bishop Seitz concluded. St. Patrick, Patron of Ireland and our Diocese, Pray for us.
The Diocese added that a suspect in the vandalism has been detained by the El Paso Police Department, which is investigating the attack.
— The Catholic Diocese of El Paso (@elpasodiocese) September 16, 2020
“This statue is one of my favorite representations of Jesus – his arms open wide in welcome, his heart aflame with love for us,” Bishop Mark Seitz said in the statement on the church’s Instagram. “I would often take inspiration from this image as I prepared for Mass.”
“As sad as I am to see a statue attacked and destroyed, I am grateful that it was not a living person,” Seitz added. “But a statue, particularly this statue, concretizes and connects us to persons and ideals that are not visible to our eyes. They reveal to us realities that are close to us, but unseen.”
Seitz said that little else is known about the person who carried out the attack, but “he must be a person who is greatly disturbed to have attacked this peaceful place in our city and this image of the King of Peace.”
The vandalism in El Paso follows more than a dozen other incidents targeting Catholics across the country, prompting lawmakers to address what they’ve characterized as a “series” of attacks targeting worshippers.
A Louisiana man was arrested Thursday after causing extensive damage Sept. 10 to Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Tioga. Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy told the Caller it was the “latest episode of attacks on those who believe.” (RELATED: Louisiana Man Arrested For Vandalizing Catholic Church)
This is a disturbing attack on Catholicism and religion.
Sadly, it is among a series of attacks on Catholic churches that have happened in recent days.
I hope that the perpetrators will be brought to justice, but I also pray that they will find their way to God as well. https://t.co/MFPHZhqn3h
— Chuck Fleischmann (@RepChuck) July 15, 2020
A statue of St. Therese was also destroyed at St. Therese of the Child Jesus Catholic Church in Midvale, Utah Sunday night, although police and the church suspect the incident involved a person known with the parish, according to FOX 13.
Fleischmann wrote to Attorney General Bill Barr about his concerns shortly after, saying “There is definitely cause for concern about a rise of hostility towards religion given the apparent rise in vandalism happening in places of worship.” Republican Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy also wrote to Barr in August, saying “Catholics are under attack in America. That is a sentence I hoped I would never have to write, but it is the reality we are facing.”