Vandals target Bradenton Catholic church again

- For the second time this year, vandals armed with spray paint targeted the Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Catholic Church.

They tagged conflicting messages on an exterior wall and a bronze statue of St. Padre Pio.

"I'd like to ask them what they were trying to do. What were they trying to accomplish here," Father Benjamin Medeiros said. "If the person or persons that perpetrated the vandalism thinks they're hurting us, they're not."

Church leaders noticed the phrases, "Jesus Lives 333," and "getting used by 666" painted on a wall Tuesday. "666" was also painted and crossed out on the statue and a kneeler.

They believe the crime occurred between 5:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.

"It's a statue. It's an important statue, but it's not the basis of our faith," Fr. Benjamin said. "The basis of our faith includes divine love for everyone, including vandals."

The church has already forgiven those that desecrated church grounds. It has also filed a report with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Less than a mile away, similar messages were tagged on a bridge, but it's unclear if they're connected.

For church leaders, forgiveness was simple. Repainting a wall and cleaning a bronze statue will be a bit harder.

"The sad part of this is whoever pretreated this vandalism obviously has no respect for other people's property, and no respect for religion. I wouldn't want this to happen to any house of worship anywhere especially in our town of Bradenton," Fr. Benjamin said.

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