Category: News & Views
Fr. John Currie beside the statue of the Virgin Mary outside St. Peter’s Church in Dorchester that was set on fire last month. Photo by Owen Smith.
By Jim Smith
Boston — For the sixth time this year a Catholic church or Catholic institution in Massachusetts has been targeted for arson or vandalism.
The latest act of arson occurred on August 3 at Sacred Heart Church in Weymouth, a suburb of Boston, where under cover of darkness the front doors and inside entrance were damaged by smoke and fire caused by thrown bottles filled with flammable liquid – effectively molotov cocktails.
Pastor Sean Connor told reporters at the scene that he is concerned about the recurring attacks on Catholic churches in the area and that his parishioners find this one especially unsettling because Sacred Heart was completely destroyed by a fire in the boiler room in 2005. It was rebuilt from the ground up and re-opened two years later.
In a recent statement, C.J. Doyle, director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, said that there have been twenty-two such incidents of vandalism in the state since 2016.
“These attacks must be stopped,” he said.
“They must be treated as the hate crimes that they are, and the perpetrators must be identified, prosecuted and incarcerated.”
As reported in the Echo on July 22, two Catholic churches in Dorchester were vandalized in mid-July when a statue of the Virgin Mary was set afire at St. Peter’s Church and a trash barrel was placed over the head of a statue of Mary at St. Teresa’s Church.
Investigations are ongoing.
In recent days, Doyle has become more critical of the reaction of the Archdiocese to the numerous and unsolved acts of destruction. In a statement issued on August 11, he said that the Archdiocese response has been “anemic, minimalist and non-committal” and simply places the blame for the attacks on “troubled souls.”
The Arson Watch Reward program of the Weymouth Fire Department is offering up to $5,000 for information which leads to the arrest of those responsible.