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Second church vandalism prompts Brooklyn Diocese to call for increased police patrols

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A statue of the baby Jesus was beheaded on the grounds of the Brooklyn Diocese offices.
Brooklyn Diocese

A second vandal desecrated another Brooklyn Catholic site on Monday, leaving the borough’s religious community reeling from the hate crimes and asking for increased police enforcement. 

The Brooklyn Diocese found a statue of a decapitated baby Jesus in the arms of the Virgin Mary at the Diocese administrative offices on Prospect Park West in Windsor Terrace — which comes just three days after a scofflaw defiled St. Athanasius Roman Catholic Church in Bensonhurst by toppling a crucifix and burning an American flag on May 14. 

“We are definitely concerned that there is a pattern of hate crimes against Catholics. There was a hate crime at a Bensonhurst parish on Friday morning and now, just a few days later, this act of hatred has been discovered at the Diocesan offices,” said Monsignor Anthony M. Hernandez of the Brooklyn Diocese. “The Diocese will be notifying our churches to be on alert, and we are asking the NYPD to increase patrols in and around the area of our churches. Hatred and intolerance of the Catholic faith, and for that matter any faith, has no place here.” 

Both acts are currently being investigated by the NYPD as a hate crime, according to the Diocese. Since 2016, seven Brooklyn churches have filed insurance claims related to vandalism, according to The Tablet.

The incident in Bensonhurst spurred the local Catholic community into action, with a fundraiser netting over $4,000 towards a $5,000 goal in a matter of hours.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday he was “disgusted” by what happened at St. Athanasius.

“I am disgusted to learn that St. Athanasius Church, a historically Italian American place of worship in Brooklyn, has been vandalized,” he said in a statement. “These acts of hate should offend and outrage every New Yorker, and I want the Bensonhurst community to know we will do everything we can to bring the cowardly vandals responsible for this to justice. Hate has no place in our state, and as New Yorkers we celebrate our diversity.”

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