Catholic Church vandals now in hate-crime probe

Authorities are now treating a vandalism spree as a hate crime after
Blessed Mother statues were damaged at five Catholic churches in Cherry
Hill and Mount Laurel.

“They’re all Catholic churches. They’re not picking Episcopal or
Methodist churches or Jewish synagogues,” said Cherry Hill Lt. Bill
Kushina. “Right now, we have to look at it as a hate crime until we can
determine it’s not.”

The rampage began early Tuesday when an 8-foot, solid Italian marble
statue of Mary was broken into three pieces at St. Thomas More Parish.

St. John Neumann Church was hit the hardest when over 30 statues in
the church’s rose garden were struck with an unknown object Thursday
night, causing an estimated $30,000 in damage.

“Catholics in the diocese, and all people of good will, are
disturbed by the recent incidents,” Camden Diocese spokesman Peter
Feuerherd said.

“We’ve … increased patrols on all our Catholic churches,” said Kushina. alexandra wigglesworth

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