CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – According to the Diocese of Knoxville, on Saturday before mass the St. Stephen’s Catholic Church pastor found their 5 foot sacred statue of the blessed Virgin Mary beheaded and on the ground of the garden it was standing in.
The damage was reported to Chattanooga Police.
The police report said they could not find the head of the statue, and that because the incident happened at a church it could possibly be viewed as a hate crime.
The report said an email was sent to Homeland Security.
The Diocese of Knoxville Director of Communications Jim Wogan released the following statement:
Anytime something like this happens it is disappointing and concerning. We don’t know if this was the targeted desecration of a sacred statue and our Catholic faith, or some kind of misguided prank, but it hurts. For whatever reason we are living in a very chaotic time and anger seems to be the default setting for people. Our bishop has asked that we live by the example set in the Gospel of Matthew, to treat others as we ourselves would want to be treated.
“Houses of worship are sacred whether it’s a church or a synagogue and need to be respected,” Congressman Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) said.
Congressman Fleischmann commented on the situation over social media.
News 12 spoke with him about it over Zoom.
“It’s a very sad day that we would see that happen anywhere in America and there have been more instances like this and to see it happen in Chattanooga at such a beautiful parish as St. Stephen’s, it’s, it’s saddening and I’m very personally hurt by this,” he said.
The Tennessee Republican is a practicing Roman Catholic and said St. Stephen’s is not his home parish, but said he’s been there before.
“Love is a much better emotion than hate, so we need to pray through this, work through this and get to another place and I do wish all the members of the parish the best as they go through this very difficult time,” Congressman Fleischmann said.
The incident is under investigation.