- Associated Press - Friday, March 25, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A former custodian who disagreed with the secular content of a flower festival at Omaha’s St. Cecilia Cathedral has been fined for damaging it.

The Omaha World-Herald reports (https://bit.ly/1MG5YMw ) that 59-year-old Mark Kenney was sentenced Thursday. He’d pleaded guilty to criminal mischief and was ordered to pay $100.

Kenney has said he was upset by the secular festival theme of “A Night at the Movies.” He admitted that on Jan. 29 he cut a cable holding a suspended Mary Poppins figure, and it crashed to the cathedral floor. He then removed a cardboard Buddha figure from a chapel and tossed it and several costumed mannequins outside.

Kenney told Judge Lawrence Barrett during a sentencing hearing in Douglas County Court that he was prepared to pay restitution for the estimated $5,000 to $6,000 in damage. Barrett said that church officials contacted the county probation office earlier this month to say they wouldn’t be seeking restitution and didn’t have a sentencing recommendation.

“I can understand your motives, sir, but not your actions,” Barrett said to Kenney.

Kenney told the newspaper earlier this month that movie character images are inappropriate in the Roman Catholic cathedral because they amount to sacrilege and idolatry.

Kenney said after the hearing that the episode was over and that the church didn’t pursue the issue any further. He said his actions brought attention to secular events being held at the cathedral and that the Omaha Archdiocese will now monitor the festival more closely.

“I think they understand the problem, and the bishop has made a statement that the archdiocese will be checking into (the event) in the future,” Kenney said. “I’m satisfied.”


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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