Arson, vandalism at Catholic parish

Arson, vandalism at Catholic parish

Dangerous vandals have been targeting a Framingham, Mass., Catholic church with two arson attempts and malicious damage to two statues.

The arson appears to be the more serious crime since the fires were while folks were inside the church for Mass.

The latest incident occurred Saturday at about 4 p.m. when the priests were preparing for the Saturday service on the eve of Palm Sunday.

During the Mass, black smoke came billowing from the sacristy. Most parishioners evacuated while others used fire extinguishers to put the fire out.

Church fires are “notoriously very dangerous,” Assistant Fire Chief John Magri said.

“Most church fires result in total losses,” he said. “There’s a lot of potential hazard because of the amount of wood.”

{…}

Two separate fires had been set in the sacristy, Shastany said. They found charred coat hangers, a rope, a belt, pieces of paper, money and clothing. The fire left scorch marks on the floor and on a wooden bench.

Before that incident, someone had set a small fire on March 18. Another time someone ripped a corpus off a crucifix inside the church and broke the right arm off while a Mary statute outside had the fingers on the left hand broken.

The violence appears to be escalating. I hope they catch the vandals before someone gets hurt.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
6 comments
  • The MetroWest Daily News website just reported that a 12 year-old boy has been charged with the arson and vandalism at St. Stephen’s Church,Framingham. Lt. Paul Shastany stated that “It does not appear that the boy had any particular grudge against the Catholic Church. It was a crime of opportunity.” 
    Since I know the officers involved in the investigation, I don’t believe that there is any attempt to cover up any implications of a hate crime. It appears to be more of a case of emotional instability in this child.

  • “It’s disturbing behavior for a kid this age to do this,” said [Lt. Paul] Shastany.

    Ya think?

    I’m sure the parishioners of Saint Stephen’s have forgiven the kid, and yeah, it does appear a “case of emotional instability” in the kid (setting fires, cutting off body parts of the Corpus of Christ, etc.) but I’ve gotta ask:

    What’s a “crime of opportunity?”

  • Kelly, I asked Google (in the absence of an actual law type person at the moment), and it coughed up this:

    “What is a Crime of Opportunity?
    A crime consists of three elements: opportunity, desire and ability. If any one of these elements is removed, we have a reduction in crime. Some crimes, those we call “crimes of opportunity,” include auto thefts and burglaries in which property is made easily available to the criminal. While you can’t usually impact a criminal’s desire or ability to commit a crime, you can often prevent an opportunity.”

  • Thanks, Jen.

    So we assume then that the kid had the desire and the ability to commit the crime. And since the property was made available to the kid, he had the necessary opportunity.

    I guess this is why so many churches are locked up.

  • In this diocese, just a few weeks ago, a new rectory was trashed just as it was being finished up.  Luckily the priests hadn’t moved in quite yet, even though many of their belongings were ruined.  It was quite a shock.  Normally things like that haven’t occurred here.  I”m not sure what the deal is with this.

  • No, crimes of opportunity are like when the cupcakes are left sitting out on the porch and the passerby lifts one without asking.  The motivation is easy to discern.

    This is entirely different.  Why would a child damage a corpus, of all things?

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