A week after two chapels in the southern Philippines were desecrated, a Catholic church in the northern part of the country was also reported to have been vandalized and its religious images desecrated.
Religious images were reported to have been found damaged outside the parish church of St. Padre Pio in Legazpi City, Albay province, last week, reports reaching LiCAS.news said on Feb. 24.
An image of the Our Lady of Salvation, which was positioned at the entrance of the parish church, lost its right hand while the left hand of an image of an angel was cut off.
Another religious image was also cut into two while a statue of St. Padre Pio, the patron saint of the church, lost its fingers. The desecrated images have been in the church for only three years, said the parish priest.
“When I saw it, I felt weak,” said parish priest Bob Bañares. “There was anger, but we don’t know who did it,” he said.
Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi also expressed sadness over the incident, describing it as an “irresponsible act” that might have been done by people who were “not in their right mind.”
“Were they under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs?” said the bishop.
“I’m really saddened by this unfortunate incident,” he said, adding that he suspects the culprit or culprits did not intend to destroy the images because these are still intact.
“Still it’s a most irresponsible act,” said Bishop Baylon. “I pray that such acts of vandalism won’t happen again,” he added.
“I pray for those who did it (that they may) realize the wrong they have done, whether it was intentional or not,” he said.
“May they feel and acknowledge at least some sense of responsibility for what they have done,” added the bishop.
Only last week, images of Catholic saints and other religious icons were found to have been desecrated in at least two village chapels in the city of Lamitan in Basilan province.
Bishop Leo Dalmao of Isabela prelature urged the Catholic faithful not to allow the attacks to sow division and hatred in the southern Philippine island province.
“I remind everyone to be vigilant and refuse any opportunity for these bad elements to succeed in sowing division and hatred among us,” he said in a statement.
“We will not allow ourselves to be dictated by the agenda of these people and we don’t want to dignify their actions by giving them and their actions undue attention and publicity,” said the prelate.