.- A 100-year-old church under restoration in the Diocese of Almeria, Spain was vandalized with graffiti and satanic symbols the weekend of March 5.
Workers found the interior of the church vandalized with satanic drawings and graffiti on March 7. Experts said it appeared the intention was to give the impression of a satanic ceremony.
The vandalism took place after the diocese won a long-fought legal battle against a private company that wanted to turn the church into a dance club and tourist site. The diocese was waiting for an official construction permit from local officials to begin renovation.
The Church of Las Salinas de Cabo de Gata, built in 1907, has been closed for worship since 2004 due to its deteriorating structure.
The diocese issued a press release the following day, condemning the vandalism and “senseless profanation.” The release stated that the diocese also had finally received the construction permit authorizing the renovation. “This act offends the religious conscience and common sense of every civilized person and in itself constitutes a gratuitous attack on a space that is sacred to the Catholic faith.”
After an examination by several experts, the damage, graffiti and disarray caused by those responsible “seem to rule out the conclusion that this was a satanic act,” the diocese said.
“Everything indicates that this was a deliberate act of vandalism, the purpose and intention of which the diocese does not wish to discuss for obvious reasons. In any case, no one will force the diocese reverse its decision, supported by the law, to carry out the renovation of this symbolic diocesan church, so that it can be re-opened for worship,” the statement said.
The diocese has filed a formal petition demanding authorities apprehend and punish those responsible.
All parishes of the diocese have also been asked to offer a special prayer in reparation for the profanation of the church on the First Sunday of Lent.
Luis Santamaria del Rio, an expert from the Ibero-American Network for the Study of Sects, told CNA he agreed with the statement by the diocese and that act of vandalism “does not appear to have anything to do with Satanic rituals.”
He said the act was clearly aimed at the diocese over the issue of ownership of the church.
Vicente Jara, an expert on Satanism with the Network, agreed with Santamaria. “This was not a black Mass or a satanic ritual,” but rather “an act of vandalism that included both satanic and non-satanic symbols,” he said.