St. John Paul II bust vandalized outside Polish Catholic church in Paris

The entrance of Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption church in Paris, France. The entrance of Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption Church in Paris, France./ Aloveswiki via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

A bust of St. John Paul II was vandalized Monday outside a Polish Catholic church in Paris.

An unidentified perpetrator poured red paint over the sculpture outside Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption Church in the heart of the French capital between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on April 19.

The bust is located at the entrance of the church, which is the oldest and largest Polish Catholic parish in the city and is situated on rue Saint-Honoré in the 1st arrondissement, near the Place de la Concorde.

Fr. Paweł Witkowski, pastor of the church which belongs to the Polish Catholic Mission, told the PolskiFR web portal that he and his parishioners were deeply saddened by the incident.

He said that John Paul II, who served as pope from 1978 to 2005 and helped to liberate Poland from communism, “certainly did not deserve such treatment.”

The priest thanked French police for their swift response and professionalism.

While the vandal’s motives are not known, similar acts of vandalism occurred in Poland during protests following a constitutional court ruling on abortion in October.

A statue of St. John Paul II in Poznań, western Poland, was covered in pro-abortion slogans. The hands of a statue of the Polish pope in Konstancin-Jeziorna, south of Warsaw, were daubed with red paint.

Other episodes of vandalism affecting Polish Catholics have taken place elsewhere in Europe.

In June 2020, vandals defaced an image of Our Lady of Częstochowa in the Dutch city of Breda.

The image of the Virgin Mary, which is revered by Poles and also known as the Black Madonna, was erected in a park in 1954 in thanksgiving for the city’s liberation from the Nazis.

Reflecting on how Polish Catholics in Paris should respond to the latest incident, Fr. Witkowski recalled that John Paul II publicly forgave his would-be assassin Mehmet Ali Ağca during a meeting in 1983.

“The Holy Father forgave the one who shot him; this is the attitude we can take towards the one who committed this profanation,” the priest said.

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