LEICESTER, United Kingdom – A Catholic Church in the English city of Leicester says it has experienced a “crime wave” after a series of incidents of vandalism.

The Dominican-run church is located in the city’s downtown area and has historically been the center of Catholicism in Leicester.

On Dec. 29, the windows of the church’s Lady chapel were smashed in the morning, and the suspect – who was later arrested by police – shouted verbal abuse at staff members.

“Due to the verbal abuse which occurred when the male perpetrator was challenged, the police were called. To be fair to the police, they sent 3 cars within a few minutes,” said a message posted on the church’s Facebook page.

The vandalism was logged both as criminal damage and a hate crime since the offender used the term “parasitic Christians.”

Damaged window at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Leicester, United Kingdom, on Dec. 29, 2020. (Credit: Holy Cross Catholic Church.)

The church estimates the repairs to the windows will cost more than £2000 ($2725).

The Dominicans said this was just the latest in a series of incidents affecting the church.

In late November, two men entered the church on a Sunday morning and walked around the church without masks – in violation of COVID-19 restrictions – and picked up the cross from the high altar, taking pictures of themselves around the church carrying it around the church.

One of them also sat on top of the high altar where the blessed sacrament is reserved.

“This was an act of sacrilege, as it is the most sacred part of the church,” the Holy Cross Facebook post said.

On Christmas Eve, the same man tried to enter the church without the required reservation, disrupting the service and even attempting to punch one of the security guards.

“Is this sort of behavior acceptable for a church? No. Does this pose a risk of being able to continue our ministry as we have been for decades? Possibly,” the statement said. “Unless some more of a proactive response is seen to stop this sort of total disrespect for a church building and those who worship here, it makes our ministry more difficult to sustain.”

The church asked parishioners to contact the city council, parliament, and police to “say that there is an intrinsic problem of criminal activity which threatens our parish.”

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