(LifeSiteNews) — Vandals in Brazil attacked a Catholic church earlier this week, destroying all of its statues.
On Monday, the parish church of São Mateus (St. Matthew) in the town of São Mateus do Sul in southern Brazil was targeted by an unconfirmed number of vandals. The malefactors destroyed all 28 statues in the parish, including a statue of the Sacred Heart and one of Our Lady of the Assumption.
“Our statues were broken, but our faith is firm,” said Father José Carlos Emanoel dos Santos, pastor of São Mateus, in a press conference on Tuesday.
In a statement posted to Facebook, the Diocese of União da Vitória said that the vandalism on the parish was “an act of desecration, and desecration of religious faith.”
The church’s assistant pastor, Father Diego Ronaldo Nakalski, said that the parish suspected that the attack happened at midday, and he said that the parish is doing all they can to locate those responsible. He also expressed his gratitude that the Blessed Sacrament remained unharmed in the attack.
“We believe its happened between 11:45 and 12:30, and whoever did this closed the church door so that no one would see because the church is always open for people to pray,” he said.
“We heard a certain noise and soon someone ran to inform us of what had happened. At total of 28 images were broken, including the images of the hall of saints, the baptistery, the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and of our patron saint, Our Lady of the Assumption.”
“Thank God the tabernacle where the Eucharistic Jesus is kept was not violated and the images of the angels were not damaged either,” the priest added. “We are very sad but we are already taking the appropriate measures, analyzing the images from the cameras.”
In his statement on the incident, Bishop Walter Jorge Pinto offered a message of hope to the faithful of his diocese, reminding them to remain forgiving despite such “a sad and inhumane act.”
“Despite our deep sorrow for what happened, our Christian faith makes us see beyond, for we are inspired by the Divine Teacher, Jesus Christ, who conquered evil at its roots by not reacting with hatred even in the face of evil, not reacting with hatred even in the face of death; who died forgiving and asking the Father forgiveness for those who killed him,” the bishop said.
“He knew, and has taught us, that the only way to overcome the diabolical forces that incite us to hatred is through a love that goes to the very last consequences.”
During the press conference, the police announced that they have a suspect for the vandalism, but no arrests have been made yet.