Catholic group wants AG to investigate defaced Virgin Mary statues as hate crime

The Catholic Action League has written a letter to Attorney General Maura Healy asking her to open a hate crime investigation into the recent acts of vandalism at Catholic churches across the state, according to a statement from the league.

Vandalized statues at a Burlington church.
A decapitated Virgin Mary statue at a Burlington church. —Burlington police

Three Virgin Mary statues have been vandalized across Massachusetts since last Friday. According to the letter, there have been four acts of vandalism at churches across the state this year and at least eight acts of “violent depredations” since 2012.

Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle asked in the letter that the hate crime investigation be opened under Chapter 265, Section 39 of the General Laws, writing that the incidents have “property destruction perpetrated against Catholic religious iconography.”

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“The number and increasing frequency of these attacks upon Catholic churches, their malicious timing, coinciding with Catholic holy days, and the heartbreaking effects being suffered by the Catholic faithful, should not be treated by law enforcement as a mere accumulation of isolated incidents,” the letter reads.

A spokeswoman for Healey, Jillian Fennimore, said the office takes these acts of vandalism “very seriously,” and that officials are reaching out to get more information.

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