Attacks on Catholic churches have steadily increased since 2020, especially in the wake of the leak of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in May 2022 that ended the federal right to an abortion.
But Tommy Valentine, director of the Catholic Accountability Project at CatholicVote, said the group's reporting suggests police manage to track down a suspect in only about one-quarter of the attacks.
"That seems to be the exception rather than the norm, not because the police departments are not wanting to investigate these things, but that they don't have the resources to combat what's really part of a nationwide epidemic," Valentine told the Washington Examiner.
Even in cases where a suspect is apprehended, the Examiner reported, the charges were reduced, or in some cases, dismissed:
- In the San Francisco area last week, a district attorney downgraded the charges against five people who desecrated the statue of a saint on Catholic church grounds from felonies to misdemeanors.
- In Washington state, the Justice Department last month recommended no jail time for a transgender person who defaced church property and assaulted a church employee.
- In Washington, D.C., a man who destroyed the statues of three saints at a Catholic school appears to have pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor that allowed him to avoid a prison sentence.
"If you look at cases where, you know, a mosque gets vandalized, or this push around anti-Asian hate and things like this — if it happens to any other group, the federal government is right on top of it," Valentine said. "As we should, right? We're not complaining about that.
"The issue is that when the attacks are against Catholic churches, there's no response."
CatholicVote reported that since May 2020, there have been at least 324 attacks against Catholic churches in the U.S., including acts of arson that damaged or destroyed historic churches; spray-painting and graffiti of satanic messages; rocks and bricks thrown through windows; statues destroyed (often with heads cut off); and illegal disruptions of Mass.
Although a handful of the attacks have included thefts, the vast majority involved only property destruction, indicating the primary motive was not material gain.
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