Vandals desecrated the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, Colorado, on Sunday with satanic messages shortly before the morning Mass.
The cathedral’s brass front doors and stone columns were defaced with messages mocking Jesus, maligning Catholic priests as “child rapists,” and claiming “Satan lives here,” according to local ABC affiliate Denver 7.
In an apparent reference to the phrase that went viral on social media after gay marriage was legalized in 2015, “love wins” was scrawled on a nearby statue of Pope John Paul II.
A priest reportedly told Denver 7 reporter Patrick Perez that a witness submitted a statement to the police.
The cathedral basilica suffered similar vandalism in 2020 during the protests that swept the county in the wake of George Floyd’s death. On the same weekend fires were set to the parish house at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., vandals spray-painted messages on church property such as “There is no God” and “God is dead.”
The cathedral did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), at least 97 acts of vandalism have occurred against Roman Catholic churches across 29 states since May 2020.
In July 2020, Archbishops Thomas Wenski of Miami and Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City released a statement warning of what they believe the increasing vandalism indicates about the spiritual health of society.
“Whether those who committed these acts were troubled individuals crying out for help or agents of hate seeking to intimidate, the attacks are signs of a society in need of healing,” the archbishops said.
“In those incidents where human actions are clear, the motives still are not. As we strain to understand the destruction of these holy symbols of selfless love and devotion, we pray for any who have caused it, and we remain vigilant against more of it,” they added.