Graffiti of a Nazi swastika in an oratory in Ireland

Irish priest warns Catholics to expect “more criticisms and attacks” after wave of church vandalism

An Irish priest has warned Catholics should expect more attacks on churches in the midst of a wave of vandalism against sacred sites in the country.

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As the Irish Catholic reports, last week vandals painted Nazi swastikas on a Catholic oratory and cross at Scrouthea Hill outside the town of Clonmel, in County Tipperary.

Also last week, vandals smashed a stained-glass window of the Sacred Heart at St Michael’s Church in Shroid, leading the Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Francis Duffy, to condemn the “threatening and distressing” attack.

“Vandalism of this kind is profoundly disrespectful to people of faith and to places of worship”, said Duffy.

“In a truly pluralist society these examples of vandalism are of concern to our whole community”, the bishop added.

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In late July a mosque in Galway suffered broken locks, the smashing of windows and the theft of security equipment.

Towards the end of June a marble statue commemorating former Archbishop of Cashel and Emly Patrick Leahy outside Thurles Cathedral – also in County Tipperary – was decapitated and the head stolen.

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Reflecting with the Irish Catholic on the spate of church attacks, Tipperary-based priest Michael Toomey said although church vandalism is more common in France, Irish Catholics are “going to be open to more and more criticism and perhaps sadly attacks” on their churches.

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Toomey added a lot of the problem is that churches are no longer seen as special spaces.

“It is actually the House of God and it’s not that people are being disrespectful deliberately, it’s just the society we live in they see it as just another public building perhaps”, said Toomey.

The priest encouraged people to rediscover the “sacredness” of church spaces.

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