The Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in the West Michigan city of Grand Rapids has become the latest victim in an ongoing series of church vandalisms that have plagued the United States this year.
Incident at Sacred Heart
Founded by Polish immigrants in 1904, Sacred Heart has been a staple of the west-side Grand Rapids community for over a century. Today it is perhaps best known as one of the few diocesan parishes in Michigan that offers the traditional Latin Mass every Sunday.
Sadly, sometime during the late evening of Wednesday August 7, vandals sprayed satanic imagery on the church’s doors, including the number “666.” While investigators continue to look for the perpetrators, Sacred Heart’s pastor has offered forgiveness to these criminals on behalf of the parish and hopes one day to have a discussion with them about why they vandalized the building.
A Wave of Church Vandalisms
In 2019, the United States has seen a wave of Catholic church vandalism. On May 21, the Notre Dame de Lourdes parish in Pennsylvania was sprayed with “pro-choice” graffiti, perhaps in response to pro-life legislation passed recently in Alabama. This attack was preceded by three other known incidents during Eastern weekend where churches in Ohio, California, and Hawaii had their statuary and architecture targeted.
Although full statistics are not available, it is been reported that other Catholic churches in the Northeast, Midwest, and West Coast have also been attacked this year. While there is no uniform reason behind the attacks, information collected thus far indicates anger toward the Church’s opposition to abortion and “retaliation” for the ongoing sex-abuse crisis. Moreover, as the United States, like much of the West, continues to secularize, sacred spaces such as Catholic churches are no longer held in high regard.
This sorrowful trend resembles other waves of anti-church vandalism still ongoing in Europe, particularly France. While public officials often decry these attacks, the truth is that few resources are put into protecting ecclesiastical buildings when compared with those devoted to upholding the integrity and safety of other religious and non-religious spaces.