PROVIDENCE, RI - The lack of respect for the church continues.
The latest example has been happening repeatedly in Providence, Rhode Island. St. Peter's Catholic Church has displayed announcements for several years on its marquee. This sign has been a source of helpful and encouraging information for the faithful Catholics in central Providence.
However, during the last six months "vandals" have repeatedly changed the wording of the message on the church marquee. This has left priests and parishioners frustrated, but they and the police seem impotent to do anything about it.
Dr. David Upton, priest at St. Peter's, said, "A group of vandals seems to have targeted our church. We do not know why we are the aim of this persecution. We try to meet the needs of all those in our community by serving mass to all who ask for it. We also encourage all our people to faithfully pray to the Holy Virgin for strength during this trial. The reality is that we have no idea when the vandals will strike next. It is intimidating and discouraging."
According to the Providence Police Department, the vandals have altered the message of the church sign on a total of 17 different occasions since June of this year. Although the marquee is locked, the vandals seem unfazed. They do not break the lock, but somehow manage to get in nonetheless.
Priest Upton elaborated on the mischief, saying, "Some of our older folks are greatly disturbed by the meanings of what we find. The sayings the vandals leave seem to be intended to shake us to the core. They leave only hurtful, angst-producing little slogans as they move the little letters around inside the marquee. We just wish they would desist so that we could get back to our normal routine of the mass."
When asked what types of sayings and slogans the vandals had been leaving behind, Upton replied that they are the worst kind. According to the priest, "Even curse words would be better than what we have seen. Since the end of October in particular, the messages have been more and more offensive."
Priest Upton gave TBNN a list of dates and sayings:
November 1 - "Justification by faith alone"
November 7 - "Sola scriptura"
November 12 - "Mary didn't die a virgin."
November 15 - "Sola fide"
November 21 - "The bible is God's word."
November 24 - "We are a kingdom of priests."
November 28 - "The Pope is fallible."
On December 1st, the "vandals" left the worst message yet. Priest Upton, in tears, reported to the police that on the night of November 30th, the marquee said simply, "Give your all to the church." When he arrived on the morning of December 1st, the marquee had been vandalized to say, "Soli Deo Gloria!"
Upton reportedly cried out to the police, saying, "When will this disrespect come to an end?!"