CHICAGO (MCT) — A copper cross that has stood at a Chicago Catholic parish since 1895 was vandalized late Monday or early Tuesday, according to police and the pastor.
“It’s very shocking,” said the Rev. Donald Craig, pastor of St. Mary of Perpetual Help Church. “Crime occurs in every community, but this is such a recognizable religious object; it’s very sacred.”
Craig said he walked out of the parish rectory around 7 a.m. Tuesday to get the newspaper and discovered the nearly 7-foot cross “bent in half.”
The pastor said it’s possible the vandals were trying to steal the cross, which he valued at $2,000, but believes they simply intended to deface it. “If they were trying to steal it, it would be gone,” he said. “It’s all bent out of shape and punched in.”
Craig said his neighbors told him other vandalism occurred nearby overnight, including a gang symbol placed on a door of a school gymnasium, broken signs and wiring taken out of a street lamp.
The cross had stood on the roof of the parish school, but was moved to the front of the rectory when the school closed 12 years ago.
Craig said the incident is particularly disturbing because it occurred during Holy Week, the days leading up to Easter, the most sacred holy day of the Catholic Church. The pastor said the cross will be blessed during a Good Friday service.
Police believe the vandalism occurred sometime after midnight, according to police News Affairs Officer Michael Sullivan. Nothing appeared to have been taken from the parish grounds, he said.