A sacred statue of the Virgin Mary has been decapitated in an anti-Christian attack on a church in Sydney, Australia.
The statue, which stood at one-meter tall, was vandalized at the Saint Charbel’s Church on Highclere Avenue, which is located in the middle of one of the country’s biggest Muslim communities in the western suburbs of Sydney.
The anti-Christian vandals smashed the glass casing outside the church, which housed a statue of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, shattering her head into pieces.
The attack took place at around 5 am on Thursday morning, and Rev. Fr. Joseph Sleiman, Superior of Saint Charbel’s Monastery, was alerted to the incident in the early hours.
Rev. Sleiman told reporters, “The shrine is a symbol of our Christianity, like the crucifix. The space that was damaged is a popular place for private prayer and reflection.”
Daily Mail Australia reports that CCTV footage around the shrine shows what appears to be a man in his twenties or early thirties behaving suspiciously on the church grounds between 4:47 am and 5:07 am.
The video clearly shows the suspect strolling around the church and even using the church toilets before smashing the Virgin Mary statue.
To Rev Sleiman’s mind, the attack was intentional and was committed by an outsider,
“I do not suspect anyone from our community. We strongly condemn any behavior of this nature to our church and any place of worship. Our Church is a place of worship and prayer that should be respected by all. Our community has been deeply affected and shocked by the attack.”
A church leader, the Bishop of the Maronite Diocese of Australia, Father Antoine Charbel Tarabay, said that Saint Charbel’s Church has not seen an attack like this since 1973 when the church was first built.
“It’s sad to see that people have the mentality to do this. I’m worried about our Australian values and our freedom of religion,” he said.
[Lead image via Chicago Tribune.]