LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Anti-Catholicism is a “scourge on our society and it must be eradicated,” according to the head of Scotland’s government.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made her comments on Thursday, when she was asked in the Scottish Parliament about the vandalism at two Catholic parishes last week.

A bus shelter outside Holy Family Parish Church in Mossend was scrawled with anti-Catholic graffiti on April 27 and vandals overturned candles and destroyed a statue in St. Simon Church in Glasgow.

Sturgeon called the vandalism “absolutely appalling and a complete outrage.”

“While it is for the police to investigate incidents such as this, including any motivation for it, we should all be clear about this, anti-Catholic, or in this case possibly anti-Polish, discrimination must not be tolerated,” she said. “Just like anti-Semitism or Islamophobia, anti-Catholic discrimination is a scourge on our society, and it must be eradicated.”

She said that all places of worship “must be places of peace and sanctuary.”

“That’s why the Justice Secretary and I have given a commitment to explore further what the Scottish Government could do to ensure safety and security for all faith communities and their places of worship.”

Scottish Justice Minister Humza Yousaf last year specifically called out anti-Catholic behavior after an attack on a Catholic priest during a parade by the Orange Order, a Protestant fraternal organization. This was a change in tack from usual practice in Scotland, when officials usually speak about the more generic “sectarianism.”