church
© Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media
St. Joseph's Church on Edwards Street was vandalized this week, as an unknown individual or individuals painted "satanic" and "anarchist" symbols on its doors, according to the Archdiocese of Hartford.

The Rev. John Paul Walker, pastor of St. Joseph's said Friday that the symbols, in pink paint, included "gibberish" language, the satanic pentagram and the anarchy symbol.

"It was certainly shocking and disturbing," said Walker.

He said the congregation had received messages of support from the community and across the nation since the incident and offered his gratitude, describing the response from the public as "amazing" and "incredible."

Church

Satanic and anarchist symbols that were painted on the front doors of St. Joseph Church in New Haven have been removed on July 17, 2020.
The church reopened Friday, he said, after an exorcism prayer was said.

Officials with the Archdiocese of Hartford vowed to be undeterred in their faith in announcing the incident on Facebook, saying that it came as part of "an apparent trend of desecrating Catholic spaces throughout the nation."

"The underlying motive of these sacrilegious attacks is clear: to intimidate and instill fear in the hearts of those who worship Christ," church officials said on Facebook.

"However, our cherished Catholic faith has survived for 2,000 years in the faces of many different oppressors, and it is not about to yield now. Therefore, we remain unafraid and resolute in our faith, and we will pray for a conversion of the hearts of those who wish to terrorize us," officials said on Facebook.

"Today, even in the midst of anti-Christian sentiment and actions, however, we do not answer hate with hate. To the contrary, these attacks make our love and unity stronger, and our prayers ever more steadfast. For as we learn in John's Gospel, we cannot truly love God if we do not love our brother," the post said.

Police Capt. Anthony Duff said the act of vandalism had not been reported to police as of Friday morning.

Walker said a disruptive individual had attended services in the days leading up to the incident, prompting calls to police. He said he was unsure whether the two matters were connected. Duff confirmed the report of the disruptive individual was made.

Walker said whoever painted the symbols was in need of prayer, and he hoped they could heal from whatever anger or illness afflicted them.

Vanessa Avery, executive director of Sharing Sacred Spaces Inc., expressed sadness and solidarity in a letter to the Register about the incident, noting the church had welcomed her openly and served as a "partner in peacemaking and interreligious dialogue with my organization."

The group features eight religious congregations from across the city, Avery noted, which "pledged to act in solidarity with one another" and "to offer compassion and support to those who have experienced bias and hate because of their religion."

St. Joseph, she said, is "a church of beauty inside and out; open and welcoming; and it is authentic and courageous in its stand for truth."

"Earlier this year, at one of our interfaith events that included a Mass, I was welcomed to join the (Eucharist) line. In one of the most personally moving interreligious encounters, the Father blessed me for exactly who I am, a Jew, at the altar," said Avery. "Our different religious paths give us a spiritual wealth beyond belief; let us be united. I am deeply saddened by the hate that has been enacted upon this community that models peace, acceptance, and love."