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  • Justin Haggerty | The Daily Knight

In the Devil's Playground - Another Catholic Church Vandalized in El Paso

St. Thomas Aquinas, El Paso, TX

The Devil is running rampant in the borderland area of El Paso, TX. Last week, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church was vandalized with windows smashed, fires set to a Holy Bible and several devotionals, including a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and various satanic symbols displayed on the walls. This attack marks the sixth Catholic Church in two years, including the Diocese of Las Cruces, vandalized by radical leftists in the region.

Although the FBI has been investigating the various incidents for alleged connections and as hate crimes, one must wonder why there have been so many similar attacked in a prominently Catholic community like El Paso.

In October, Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Horizon City, on the outskirts of El Paso, was broken into by unknown individuals, causing several damages and stole the Tabernacle containing the Holy Eucharist. Father Jose Morales, the parish priest, and Bishop Mark Seitz called for prayer and reparations for the "violation of the Most Blessed Sacrament," stating to KVIA that "the indifference of the world towards God in the holiness Most Blessed Sacrament needs to be overcome with the devotion, love and the holiness of His children. Let us remain united and strong in the Lord and manifest that we are his faithful followers regardless of the violations that some express.”

Father Morales, in a letter to his parish, went further to say, “may our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe, who witnessed the acts of hatred and indifference towards her beloved Son, bring us consolation and guide us closer to the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the Holy Spirit protect us always."

It was only five months before, during June and May, that St. Jude Catholic Church, St. Patrick Cathedral, and St Matthew Catholic Church suffered broken windows and failed acts of arson with incendiary devices that caused some damage, but the fires didn't spread through the buildings. The El Paso Fire Department led investigations on both incidents.

Bishop Seitz when speaking with KFOX didn't offer a substantive statement about the growing violence against Catholic Churches in his Diocese, only making the clear observation that the attacks appear to be connected. At that time, in Spring of 2019, the FBI was offering rewards totaling $15,000 for information leading to the arrest of whoever is responsible.

The cases are being investigated by multiple agencies: the FBI’s El Paso Office, the El Paso Fire Marshal’s Office, the El Paso Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

The El Paso Times reported that FBI officials have asked people to remain vigilant for any suspicious or unusual activity. They also stated they have received numerous tips which are being thoroughly investigated. Unfortunately, that was stated in September and no arrests have followed, only additional acts of vandalism on Catholic Churches.

The first known, and possibly related, vandalism to Catholic Churches in the area was in the neighboring Diocese of Las Cruces, where the Basilica of San Albino in Mesilla reported someone throwing a rock through a window, breaking a statue and urinating on the Church's doorsteps in October, 2018. No arrests were ever made, and the case was likely overlooked as a local juvenile incident. Now, as neighboring El Paso, TX suffers from more attacks, the vandalism in Las Cruces should be re-investigated for possible connections.

According to Catholic News Agency, there has been no official address or statement by Bishop Seitz to quell the increasing violence in the Diocese.

Those are the facts, at least publicly known. It's impossible to keep oneself from wondering about the underlying factors that are authorizing such violence to take place in El Paso. Although Bishop Seitz has failed to assert a strong position against the current trend of vandalism within his Diocese, I would argue that the enablers were present long before the crimes.

The crimes are only visible symptoms of a cancer that already existed.

Furthermore, since the evil Walmart shooting on August 3rd that claimed the lives of twenty-two innocent people in El Paso, it would be all too easy to include it with the violence under question. However, the shooter traveled from Dallas, bringing his evil with him, and picked El Paso out of his passions of xenophobia. His enablers were not conceived in El Paso. On the contrary, the enablers for the several cases of vandalism against Catholic Churches in El Paso are home to the borderland.

Reflection of the Virgin. The mural of the Virgin of Guadalupe is located next to a gas station in the Lower Valley of El Paso. Photo by Cynthia Carol Almodovar,

El Paso, one of the largest Catholic metropolitan communities in the United States, has 44.9% of its population identifying as Catholic in the most recent census. The city also boarders the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez, also predominantly Catholic. Thus, violence against Catholics should not be occurring in a community where they are a majority. More often than not, hate crimes are committed by members of the majority against a minority. In El Paso, this has not been the case, as Catholics are no longer the sole majority.

In the same census, 40.2% of residents in El Paso County identified as non-religious, up from 27.9% in 2000. Near Pope Francis' 2016 visit, the Borderzine published an article, "El Paso fallows national trend of decrease in religious affiliation," addressing the growing issue of the youth turning away from institutionalized religion for a quasi secular-atheism. Where the youth left Catholicism in the 1970's and 1980's for evangelical groups, today they leave for socialism and more man-centered beliefs.

In fact, as detailed in the 2016 article, “many people who have left main stream religious communities, particularly younger people, claim that they no longer feel these faith communities represent their values and beliefs,” said Director of Religious Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso Dr. Ann Horak. This movement and shift away from Christianity and the embrace of socialism within American metropolitan areas, as exemplified in El Paso, is the main enabler that is seeding the tension and violence seen as of late.

As I alluded to above, although violence is normally used by a majority against a minority to subdue them, a similar scenario of violence is probable between a majority and a rising majority. This rising majority is the contentious non-religious on the left.

It is no coincidence that the most violent and bloody battlegrounds during the Protestant Reformation and Thirty Year's War, where Germany and Holland lost one-third of their populations, were in communities that were split between co-majorities of Catholic and Protestant believers. Paris and Saint Petersburg are also great examples for the revolutionary era and the spilling of Christian blood.

Unfortunately, the Diocese of El Paso, like many diocese across the United States, and the world for a matter of fact, lacks the leadership required to defend truth and silence harmful deviation. Bishop Seitz, like many magistrates, are guilty of sitting idle, observing the issues, and not having the intestinal fortitude to intervene. More often than not, the Bishop appears to place secular issues like immigration and escorting migrants across the U.S. Boarder than the salvation of souls.

That may be why a strong and assertive statement has not been made against the ongoing violence and vandalism against Catholic Churches in the Diocese of El Paso.

Some argue that certain Bishops don't care and intend the shrinking and cultural evolution of the Catholic Church. I don't buy that necessarily. I do agree that their world view may be different, and possibly the way they view Apostolic Tradition and the weight of their magisterium, but the lack of intervention is more associated with the absence of a masculine defense of the Faith.

Unless the main enabler is fixed, American society will see more violence across many metropolitan centers in the United States. El Paso is not an isolated case, but a glimpse into the symptoms caused by a de-Christianized and socialist society, creating the Devil's playground.

In Christ Crucified and the Most Victorious Heart of Jesus.

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