A church in the US state of Florida is reeling after suffering horrific vandalism attack in which a statue of the Lord Jesus was beheaded.
The incident took place sometime between last Tuesday night and Wednesday in the courtyard of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church in West Kendall.
In the wake of the attack, a joint investigation has been launched by both the Miami-Dade police and the Department of Homeland Security.
"This is an attack on the church,” said Mary Ross Agosta, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Miami. "This is not only private property, it is sacred property."
The church's deacon, Edivaldo da Saliva, recounted finding the headless statue, which had been toppled off its pedestal. He noted that the church does have surveillance cameras, but that they are not pointed towards where the statue once stood. "This morning I found it on the ground, and we presume that it is vandalism," he told Local 10 News. "We have seen this happening all over the country."
Agosta added that there was zero chance of it being an accident. "This is not something you can trip over and say, ‘Oh, sorry,’” she said. “Someone did this intentionally.”
The Archdiocese of Miami added that they are calling for the authorities to investigate the incident as a "hate crime" and lamented the fact that such incidents of church vandalism are becoming increasingly common across the United States.
Over the past few weeks, several Catholic churches have been vandalised and even set on fire. In Los Angeles, a 215-year-old Catholic church, the San Gabriel Mission, was recently decimated by an inferno. Many believe it was an intentional arson attack, though an exact cause has not yet been determined by investigators.
As Premier previously reported, earlier this month, a Florida man drove his car into the Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Ocala before setting it alight and fleeing. 24-year-old Steven Shields was later apprehended and charged with attempted second-degree murder, arson to a structure of a structure believed to be occupied, burglary of an occupied structure using a motor vehicle and felony fleeing.