A bishop in Northern Ireland has condemned the vandalism of a County Down Catholic church as a “callous and cowardly” act of “pointless destruction”.
An overnight attack on Our Lady of the Angels Oratory in Kilkeel left 14 Stations of the Cross damaged along with statues, pews and stained glass windows. The car of Parish priest, Fr Michael Murray was also damaged with bricks.
“The perpetrators of this callous and cowardly action violated a place of worship and left an entire local community appalled, distressed and deeply upset,” Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor said, according to a report in the Irish Catholic newspaper.
He said the “pointless destruction was calculated to escalate tensions at a time of the year when every effort must be made by all citizens to promote respect and peace.”
Every year on July 12 in Northern Ireland, the Protestant “Orange Order” march is held. The event has often heightened tensions between Protestants and Catholics.
Bishop Treanor has appealed to all those in positions of leadership, media, community workers, Church ministers, politicians and other organisations to “continue to exercise responsible governance, to condemn with courage such actions as that perpetrated in Kilkeel last night, and to do all within their power to dissipate and calm fears and apprehensions rather than enflame tensions, conscious of the authority and consequences of their public voice”.