The Parish Crucifix. What would you do?

In our parish, we have [or had] a beautiful large crucifix with a man size figure which stood in our parish private grounds. It stood there for over 25-years unmolested, then about a year ago, it was found that the figure had been smashed to pieces.

The blame was laid at the door of local thugs.The wooden cross stood on its own until it was decided a few months ago to have another figure made and re-fitted. This cost us £300. [about $500]. Last week the figure was smashed again. A note was nailed to the cross that ‘this was an act of good conquering evil’!

An attempt was made to burn down our church. Pews [they are very heavy] were found stacked on top of each other from floor to ceiling [about 30-foot high] and paper etc had been lit underneath the bottom one. By the grace of God, the primer went out before setting fire to the bottom pew, it was miraculously only scorched. We have no idea who the likely culprits are

Our church is a very beautiful building that took over 50-years to be paid for. Though it is only 70-years old, it is a listed building.

Our town is a relatively quiet location, we do not have the serious crime that other areas suffer, nor so far as I am aware any racial/religious hatred. There has been a mosque open in a private house a few doors away. They have been there for the past two years only. But they are not suspected as they are very quiet. Is there anything significant that happens in Islam mid April every year? I am not accusing them, just asking.

We have a very good working relationship with Mainstream Protestant Churches. Our Hall is used for a range of local community [non-Catholic] activities.

There is an SDA and JW movements but they are relatively quiet so I do not suspect them. It is strange the damage occured at the SAME time two years on the trot in mid April.

This is the $64,000 question. Who do you think it might be?

Do you think we should replace the figure?

Traditionalists among us think we should. We are not a wealthy parish. What do you think?

What other ‘Catholic’ witness could we have in place of the Crucifix? Ideas most gratefully welcomed

what would I do? if I were someone in the parish with influence such as parish council I would urge getting the police involved. I should think your insurance carrier would insist on an investigation. Where is this happening? I certainly would make sure any statue, image, sign etc. outside was protected and made of indestructible materials. If the police are not acting I would make sure there was a lot of publicity about their refusal to act. We have had our Sacred Heart statue vandalized twice and in both cases the perpetrators were identified because of prompt police action. Who do I think is responsible in your case? I have no idea I don’t know anything about your community, that is why you get professionals to investigate.

That’s a really positive sign. When people ignore the Church then it becomes irrelevant and fades away. If they couldn’t stop Christianity by literally crucifying Jesus they are not going to stop us by smashing a crucifix, and if they feel strongly enough about a symbol to attack it then that’s more than half the battle in getting them to venerate it.

Obviously you can’t afford an infinite supply of crucifixes to be smashed, but I’d keep it up for as long as you can.

Good advice. And you have to get the local police involved. Extra patrols, double checking security of doors, etc. I would bet that once you have let the entire community know about this, you will get a lot of support. Someone who knows something about the vandals may even step forward. My best to you and your parish.

Thank you puzzleannieWe contacted the police on both occasions but they really did not want to know.They suggested we kept it inside, but that is the whole point of having it outside.

I will report back to the parish council the idea of using indestuctable materials.

Thank you Malcolm Mc Lean I hear what you say about witness, I will report that back too. May I quote you as you put it so eloquently?

Welcome other feedback suggestions too:)

Of course you can. This is public forum, so all statements are for public consumption.

Often times, our churches are magnets for the type of behavior you have described. Obviously, you cannot continue to replace the image of Our Lord indefinitely. My thought for the present would be to hold off on replacing the image. What concerns me more is the attempt at arson. I’m a retired State Police Officer, but really don’t have any sure fire suggestions. It might be wise to look at physical security issues as far as the church building itself is concerned. You might look at the possibility of installing a monitored alarm system which would notify both police and fire departments in the event of emergency. Extra police patrol is OK, but is really a short term, and usually low priority option. If you live in an area with other significant law enforcement issues, the police might have little time to provide the parish with extra patrol.I really wish I could be more encouraging. At the end of the day, it’s going to be largely up to the parish itself to come up with the answers. For the present, I’d seriously consider the alarm system. Not perfect by any means, but a definite start. Think about a video surveilance system around the area of the crucifix as well.

Think about a video surveilance system around the area of the crucifix as well.

and your suggestion for an alarm system linked to the police. I think they are excellent ideas too. Thankyou

Hold off on replacing the image… Whether or not pieces remain on the cross, leave it there, and put up a little sign:
“This is My Body, broken for you”. (1 Corinthians 11:24).

I’m not saying, no one will ever disturb it again…Just that, if they do, they will get a little :thumbsup: evangelizing in the process…

You are in my prayers.

Relative indestructibly seems not only a prudent option, but a biblical one. When Hananiah (the false prophet) broke the yoke Jeremiah was carrying to symbolize the domination of the Jews by Babylon, the Lord gave Jeremiah this message for his rival: “You have broken a wooden yoke, but in its place you will get a yoke of iron.”:thumbsup:

Is there a priest in an ajoining rectory? Are the doors locked when no sacraments are being offerred?

I’d lock the doors and install a motion sensors with spotlights. If the place lights up, it is sure to draw attention, and if the doors are locked, they can’t get inside to burn pews. I’d also consider the “indestructible materials” option.

How about rigging the next one full of exploding dye packs and pepper spray powder. In a statue that size you could put enough in to cover a 10 meter radius. Then set up the detonator to go off when the statue is pulled off the cross or tipped or perhaps even just an impact sensor. Then the next time it happens you just ask around town if anyone has seen a guy with a blue face and watery eyes. :slight_smile: It takes weeks for that dye to wear off, and him and anyone with him would be covered from head to toe!

You could also set up a group of men to stand guard or consider hiring private security. And use spotlights to scare off those who prefer darkness. Is the statue area well-lighted?

I would say replace the Crucifix, with as durable materials as possible.

Also, surveillance cameras might be a good idea. The police will have a hard time ignoring you if you have evidence.

Call the local prosecutor and insist upon an investigation. Remind the police that if they are doing this to your property, they are just as likely to wreak havok in other parts of town. This is serious business. If something got graffittied once, it would be one thing, but destruction of property and attempted arson??? HELLO!!! I’d be worried that THEY may be the ones doing this if they won’t even bother to investigate such significant crimes.

Definitely spend some money on installing security cameras. Run continuous tape on them. And if there is a parish secretary make sure she’ generally monitoring them in her office.

Stand together with some of the other local churches to publically denounce such activities. And definitely do not show defeat.

Forget about local law enforcement at this point.

The crime(s) you are referring to fall under the category of Hate Crimes and many states have now established Task Forces for just this thing. If one has not been established in Your Attorney General or Governer’s office, the FBI and DOJ both have a great deal of experience with church desecrations and will be able to point you in the right direction.

Also, (sorry for the information overkill here, but you shouldn’t give up) the following Catholic organization is experienced in these matters and can probably assist in some manner:

catholicleague.org/faqs.htm

Hope this helps… please give us an update from time to time at how it’s going.

One more:

The National Church Arson Task Force, under the Federal Church Arson Prevention Act, has established the following website for tips on preventing church arson as well as other useful information on what they do.

atf.gov/pub/gen_pub/cfassmnt.htm

An excerpt from the above site:

One aspect of this commitment is the dissemination of the Church Threat Assessment guide. It contains valuable information on the steps that may be taken to prevent fires at churches, the steps to follow after an incident has occurred, the toll free telephone number, 1-888-ATF-FIRE, and the telephone numbers of ATF and FBI offices for providing authorities information about any acts of violence, or threats of violence, directed at churches nationwide.

This right here is what I’d be worried about. With such a “head in the sand” mentality by your police force, it’s no wonder that such things continue to happen.

I noticed in your OP that you used pounds when discussing the price of the statue- from that, I’m assuming that you’re not posting from the US, so I don’t know if this suggestion will be relevant or not, but if news outlets could help you “shame” the police into taking action, it might be useful. “Local Police Look the Other Way As Local Church Is Vandalized and Burned” seems like a nice headline. Back home, the local TV station had a “Hall of Shame” segment where people called in stories just like this and the news covered it.

I think the OP is in England as the cost repairing the crucifix was quoted in pounds. I do not know if England has something like this.

My apologies as I felt so strongly I missed that!

I’m hoping that can somehow find governmentagencies in your area with equivalent resources… Church desecrations are obviously a problem not just in the US, but everywhere, and I think your parish needs to go beyond replacing the crucifix and keep going higher up the chain in law enforcement* until* you get some action.

Terribly sorry to have wasted your time,

M

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