- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 28, 2022

A Catholic church in Reston, Virginia, was vandalized this past weekend, with police saying that graffiti had defaced parts of the church and smoldering mulch was evident on its grounds.

Fairfax County police said the county’s fire department was first called to St. John Neumann’s Catholic Church at 11900 Lawyers Road around 6:45 a.m. Sunday when reports came in about the mulch.

Fairfax Fire and Rescue “detected an accelerant” that police said was likely used in the mulch’s combustion. Fire officials also noticed graffiti on parts of the building at this time, which is when they contacted the police for further investigation.

“The remarks spray painted were related to the recent Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling,” police said in a news release, referring to the ruling issued Friday by the Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

WJLA-TV, the D.C. area’s local ABC affiliate, took pictures of the graffiti, which had the words “This won’t end” across the church’s front entrance sign and also “F U” on a different part of the church’s building.

“If you know the people of St. John Neumann parish … there are people who have great hope and faith in God, but this was unsettling,” Billy Atwell, chief communications officer for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, told The Washington Times.

“They’re balancing out the exercise of their faith and being hopeful people, with practical concern that somebody would rise to this level of violence and criminality to make a political point,” he said.

The incident didn’t interrupt any of Sunday’s church services, which began at 7:30 a.m., Mr. Atwell said.

The spokesman said that the diocese reminded its parishes before the abortion ruling to be alert and vigilant.

Footage from St. John Neumann’s cameras has been turned over to Fairfax police “in the hopes that they could create some accountability for what happened there.”

Virginia’s Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Bob Mosier told WJLA that Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration is working to hold the St. John Neumann vandals accountable as well as finding out who damaged and vandalized a pregnancy center in Lynchburg.

“What happened at that church shouldn’t have happened and it shouldn’t have happened in the place in Lynchburg, as well,” Mr. Mosier told WJLA. “These things shouldn’t happen. We’re not going to tolerate it.”

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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