Home Church community Bishop, other religious communities speak out after Reston church vandalism

Bishop, other religious communities speak out after Reston church vandalism


Bishop Michael F. Burbidge reached out to parishioners at a Reston church over the holiday weekend, following an incident of vandalism two days after the June 24 Supreme Court ruling. quashing Roe v. Wade. Several other religious communities have also expressed their support for the parish.

“I was deeply saddened and concerned when I learned of the shocking vandalism and arson that occurred on your parish campus last weekend,” Bishop Burbidge said in a statement. statement which the president read during masses at St. John Neumann’s Church over the July 4 weekend.

The vandalism consisted of a smoldering mulch fire that was found outside the church early on June 26, as well as several spray-painted graffiti messages related to the decision on the building and on the sign in front the church. Incidents of vandalism were reported in several states over the weekend after the ruling. A diocesan spokesperson said the parish was working with law enforcement to review film footage of the incident.

“As you know, the police are still investigating these acts of hate to determine who was responsible,” Bishop Burbidge’s statement read. “We know from the painted messages that the vandalism was a direct result of our unwavering support for unborn children and their mothers.”

Bishop Burbidge said in the statement that many Catholic churches and pro-life centers have been vandalized in the months and weeks surrounding the recent Supreme Court decision. He said since May 2020, more than 145 similar acts have occurred in Catholic parishes, schools and ministries across the country. “We pray for the repentance and conversion of those who committed these and similar offenses,” he said in the statement.

“We believe in the sanctity of all human life. It is fundamental to who we are as Catholics and what we believe,” he continued. “As we celebrate the 4th of July, we thank God and all those who made the ultimate sacrifice to secure our independence, and we renew our commitment to safeguarding and protecting religious freedom.

“During a time like this, as Catholics, we continue to proclaim the truths of the Gospel and to provide care and support to those who need it most: unborn children, mothers, including women in crisis, their families and all vulnerable people. In addition, we must encourage our officials to ensure the protection of religious groups, as well as to protect all human life, from conception until natural death.

“In imitation of Jesus and with his grace, we are called to remain compassionate, loving and forgiving to all and to strive daily to promote civility and unity,” he said in the statement.

Father Joseph T. Brennan, pastor, commented on the vandalism in the parish bulletincalling it “alarming and disturbing to all of us”.

“Vandalism of any type is unacceptable. It is also very sad,” he said. “For a religious community or a place of worship to be targeted by groups that show violence and vulgarity is a mistake. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. »

“As a community of Catholic faith, we at St. John Neumann Parish have strongly advocated for the respect and dignity of all life, from conception to natural death. We are also a welcoming religious community known for its hospitality,” Fr. Brennan said. “I ask that we all take the path of respect, responding better than the perpetrators did to us. Pray for the dignity of all life, and also pray for civility among all citizens, especially when there is strong disagreement.

St. John Neumann parishioner Ed Grace echoed that comment, saying he was “very saddened to learn that our parish was the target of vandalism last weekend. … We are the parish where ‘All are welcome.’ We will continue to pray that the animosity in our country will eventually be resolved.

Father Brennan said the parish also received a letter from the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation in Reston, which he said sent the letter to all of its members. He added that other religious communities in the region have also reached out to express their support.

“There is no place in our community – or in our country – for acts of hatred against religious groups and institutions, regardless of their political stance,” the official said. letter of the synagogue, signed by two rabbis and other leaders of the congregation.

“We can disagree on issues; nevertheless, we stand with our neighbors and friends at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, whose sacred space has been violated, and condemn those who committed this act of sinat hinam, senseless hatred,” read the letter from the synagogue.