A crucifix dedicated to a Brooklyn monsignor’s late mother was smashed and an American flag was burned Thursday at a local Catholic church.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) is looking into what may constitute a hate crime after a vandal jumped over a fence Thursday night, toppled the Jesus statue, and torched the flag at St. Athanasius Roman Catholic Church in Bensonhurst, according to the New York Post.
Jesus statue toppled, American flag burned in NYC church attack https://t.co/ngaHMLGGVq via @nypmetro. Very sad to see this! Monsignor Casatto is one of the most upbeat clergy members in NYC & he said that this was his saddest day in 20 yrs at St A’s parish.
— Sal Albanese (@SalAlbaneseNYC) May 15, 2021
Hundreds attended a prayer vigil Friday night following a morning post the church wrote about the incident, according to The Christian Post. (RELATED: NYPD Hate Crimes Unit Investigates Vandalism Of Statue Depicting Anti-Communist Polish Priest)
“On such a short notice we all came together to show how strong our Faith is! What an amazing crowd! We are one community! We are one family! We love each other!” the church wrote on Facebook.
The destroyed cross containing the image of Jesus was installed at the parish in 2010 and dedicated to the memory of Monsignor David Cassato’s late mother, the New York Post reported.
“My mother spent the last two years of her life living in the rectory,” Cassato told the New York Post. “She was sick with cancer, and she became so friendly with everybody that when she passed people wanted to do something to keep her memory alive and that is the reason we dedicated the cross to her.”
“This was truly an act of hatred and today is the saddest day of my twenty years here at this parish,” Cassato said in a statement. “I went over and spoke to the students in the school about what happened, telling them that hate never wins. We are, and must be, a community that continues to share the message of Easter, that which is of love, hope, and forgiveness.”
The NYPD has released the video of a suspect, whose identity has not yet been ascertained, WABC-TV reported.
“There are no arrests and the investigation remains ongoing,” Detective Denise Moroney, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of public information’s spokesperson, told the Daily Caller on Sunday.