CV NEWS FEED // An unidentified vandal defaced a historic Catholic Church in northern California on Sunday morning, launching a hate crimes investigation.
On November 5, before Sunday morning Mass, church leaders at the Cathedral of the Annunciation in the diocese of Stockton discovered white paint splattered across the church’s front doors and steps.
The word “die” was also painted in two places on the sidewalk outside the church, according to local news outlet KCRA 3.
The Stockton police responded to the scene by 6:30 am.
Police spokesman David Scott told the Stockton Record that “Our detectives will be investigating this vandalism to see if this crime was motivated based on a religious bias.”
Deacon Richard Braun told KCRA 3 that seeing the word ‘Die’ painted on the street “has me a little concerned. It’s a scary feeling. Especially [because] a lot of Catholic churches around the world have been vandalized since the beginning of COVID for whatever reasons, so it does get us worried.”
The same day, parishioners helped clean off the paint with a pressure washing machine. The church remained open for all Masses on Sunday.
On Sunday afternoon, the church’s Facebook page posted images of volunteers cleaning the cathedral. “Our Cathedral of the Annunciation is alive with the Holy Spirit!! Thanks to Father John Foster’s quick action before the 7 am Mass, the police department came out to record the incident,” the post stated.
“Thanks to our amazing parishioners [who] volunteered their pressure washing equipment and talent, and our maintenance person who will finish off the details on the doors,” the post added. “Thank you to the community for your prayers. God is good!”
Bishop Myron Cotta issued a statement on Sunday regarding the vandalism:
I am deeply saddened by the early morning vandalism at our beloved Cathedral. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to our dedicated parish staff and parishioners for their swift assistance in managing the situation. A special thanks goes to the Stockton Police Department for their prompt response and support.
In a separate social media post on Monday morning, the cathedral published an update on the cleaning progress following the vandalism: “Thanks to a generous parishioner, he was able to remove the paint from the signs, bricks, and stone with his pressure washer. We are currently researching the best way to remove the paint from the wooden doors without damage. Thank you for your continued prayers! Let us also pray for a change of heart for those who committed this unfortunate act.”
“At this time, police said there is no releasable motive or information about the culprits,” the Stockton Record reported. According to CatholicVote’s Violence Tracker at least 377 attacks or acts of vandalism have occurred at Catholic churches in the United States since May of 2020.