Featured Image

ORLANDO, Florida (LifeSiteNews) —A Florida Catholic church beloved for its reverent liturgies was set ablaze Saturday evening, leaving its interior virtually destroyed, on the first-year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.

A fire at Incarnation Catholic Church in Orlando, the site of traditional Masses of the Personal Ordinariate of St. Peter, was reported to police by a laundromat owner across the street at around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 24, a year to the day after the Dobbs v. Jackson decision that dismantled the “right” to abortion before fetal viability, allowing states to decide the issue.

The Orlando Fire Department shared with that no one was inside the church during the fire, and no injuries have been reported. According to the department, the fire originated in the rear of the church. 

Incarnation Catholic Church

The cause of the blaze is unknown and under investigation. Questions as to whether the blaze was instigated in protest of Dobbs are being raised, considering that the Supreme Court decision and its expectation sparked the vandalism of hundreds of pro-life pregnancy centers and churches across the country.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has counted at least 262 destructive incidents at Catholic churches in the U.S. since May 2020, including arson, graffiti, and statue amputations. There was a pronounced uptick in such incidents in May 2022 as abortion activists anticipated the eradication of Roe, and in some cases spray-painting pro-abortion messages onto churches as well as pro-life facilities. 

Fr. William Holiday told Click Orlando regarding Incarnation, “The church for all intents and purposes on the inside is destroyed. We did lose some paintings and some statues and things like that, but there were some things in there, there was a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary in there (…) and it did not have a mark on it.”

Father William Holiday

Fr. Holiday refrained from speculating as to the cause of the fire, saying, “If it’s circumstantial, it’s God’s providence, if it’s possibly intentional, that’s in God’s providence also.”

Parishioner Karen Walker told WESH, “Everybody is really, really sad because we love our church. It was beautiful. I don’t know what it will be now. It hasn’t hit me yet, but it will be devastating.”

Mass resumed the next day, Sunday, in the property’s Royal Hall, where it will be held indefinitely. The church website noted that the Sunday Mass and daily Mass schedule has not changed.

Despite the devastation of the church, parishioners told WESH they are aiming to keep spirits up.

“It was packed solid and we had to keep going out and getting chairs. We want to uplift the community. We are people of a lot of faith,” they said.

The pastor has not yet provided information on potential plans for a new church.

Attendees rave about Incarnation Catholic Church in large part because of its reverent liturgies, which draw from English Monastic tradition in preserving elements of Anglican heritage reminiscent of the Traditional Roman Rite of the Mass. The Mass is celebrated Ad Orientem, maintains the reception of Holy Communion on the tongue, and has been described by one attendee as similar to a Latin Mass parish in its “overall personality.”

The ordinariate was established by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in 2012 for Anglican and Methodist converts in the U.S. and Canada, and has more than 40 parishes and communities across North America. Its liturgy is a form of the Roman Rite known as “Divine Worship” or “Ordinariate Use.” 

Incarnation Catholic Church’s sister parish, St. John Fisher Catholic Church in Orlando, is also a community of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter. 

LifeSiteNews reached out to Incarnation Catholic Church for comment and was referred to the Chancery of the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter. The Chancery had not responded at the time of publication.