RNS looks at the issue:
It was after a pair of Catholic churches caught ablaze last summer, one in Southern California and another in Florida, that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops decided to start documenting and tracking vandalism at Catholic sites across the country.
The two fires occurred on the same morning: July 11, 2020. One destroyed the rooftop of the historic San Gabriel Mission — the fourth of a series of missions across California that Father Junipero Serra founded during the Spanish colonization era. The other ignited in Queen of Peace Catholic Church as parishioners prepared for Mass in Ocala, Florida.
Nobody was injured, but Aaron M. Weldon — of the USCCB’s Office of Religious Liberty — said the fires were “the impetus for us to start monitoring these sorts of events.”
Since then, the USCCB has tracked more than 105 incidents of vandalism of Catholic sites in the U.S., including arson, graffiti and defaced statues. The organization has logged news reports of such incidents dating back to May 2020, but it doesn’t yet have a detailed breakdown that categorizes the different kinds of vandalism.
The USCCB has dedicated a page on its website listing news stories of vandalism by month.
In California, statues of Father Junipero Serra have been toppled in protest of what activists have called the enslavement of Native Americans. A monument for “babies whose lives are ended by abortion” was knocked over at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Bloomingburg, New York. The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, Colorado, was recently marked with graffiti that read “Satan lives here” and included references to “child rapists.”
… New FBI stats show the number of hate crimes (8,263) reported in fiscal year 2020 was the highest since 2001. Hate crimes motivated by religious bias accounted for 1,244 offenses, and more than half (683) were antisemitic.
From the USCCB:
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement:
“These incidents of vandalism have ranged from the tragic to the obscene, from the transparent to the inexplicable. There remains much we do not know about this phenomenon, but at a minimum, they underscore that our society is in sore need of God’s grace.
“In all cases, we must reach out to the perpetrators with prayer and forgiveness. True, where the motive was retribution for some past fault of ours, we must reconcile; where misunderstanding of our teachings has caused anger toward us, we must offer clarity; but this destruction must stop. This is not the way.
“We call on our elected officials to step forward and condemn these attacks. We thank our law enforcement for investigating these incidents and taking appropriate steps to prevent further harm. We appeal to community members for help as well. These are not mere property crimes – this is the degradation of visible representations of our Catholic faith. These are acts of hate.”