Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Vandals strike cemeteries in Winona diocese with malice over a ten year period. Bishop Harrington hints at satanism!

. Vandalism at Calvary Cemetery in Rochester last month seems more than just a prank and was a hostile act that showed "perhaps even a satanical attitude toward our Catholic religion," said Winona Diocese Bishop Bernard Harrington, who noted a series of destructive acts at Catholic cemeteries in southern Minnesota.

In January, intruders beheaded a statue of the Virgin Mary at Calvary Cemetery and tried to chisel the head off a statue of Jesus. The incident is the most recent in a 10-year string of vandalism at diocesan cemeteries, said Harrington.

In a statement released this month on the Rochester incident, Harrington listed cemeteries where vandals have desecrated statues, headstones and graves. The list includes Calvary Cemetery in Austin (2003 and 2006), St. Columba Cemetery in Iona (2005), St. Aloysius Cemetery in Elba (2002), St. Charles Cemetery in St. Charles (1999) and Holy Trinity Cemetery in Rollingstone (1996).

Damage also was caused by reckless or drunken drivers at cemeteries in Austin (1995, 1999 and 2006), Hammond (2000), Owatonna (2003) and Iona (2005).

Harrington said he's sure police are pursuing all reasonable leads, but "at the same time, I wonder how much a sense of loss and true compassion is present in our local Catholic and church communities."

Statewide, vandalism in recent years appears to be on par with what it's always been, said Ron Gjerde, director of the Minnesota Association of Cemeteries.

The Rochester Franciscan Congregation owns the damaged statues at Calvary Cemetery in Rochester and likely won't decide until spring whether to replace them, said Sister Ramona Miller. Rochester Post-Bulletin

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