Pro-life display vandalized at St. Louis County parish 

St. Paul vandalism 10-3-23 Vandalism of a pro-life display outside St. Paul Catholic Church in Fenton, Missouri, on Oct. 3, 2023. | Katherine Burns

A pro-life display at a St. Louis-area Catholic parish was defaced with red paint sometime between Oct. 2-3. 

Parishioners attending daily Mass Tuesday morning discovered the display — which consisted of a cluster of white crosses and a white banner facing the street reading “Pray to End Abortion” — with red spray paint all over the crosses and the words “Pro-life is a lie, you don’t care if people die” scrawled on the banner. 

The display was on the grounds of St. Paul Catholic Church, a large parish with a school located in the suburb of Fenton, about 20 minutes outside of St. Louis. St. Paul, along with numerous other parishes around the archdiocese, held a public pro-life prayer service Oct. 1 in honor of Respect Life Month. 

Father John Nickolai, St. Paul’s pastor, told CNA that there appears to be no permanent damage to the church or school property. 

“The police came here this morning but I haven’t heard any more from them as of 3 this afternoon,” Nickolai told CNA in an email. 

He said he encourages Catholics to “pray, fast, and make sacrifices for the conversion of hearts” in the face of the vandalism. 

Officer Adrian Washington with the St. Louis County Police Public Information Office told CNA on Tuesday that the “destruction of property/vandalism is being investigated” and that police do not have suspect information to share at this time. 

Missouri is one of nearly a dozen states that passed a total ban on abortion, with limited exceptions, following the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022. 

Since a draft of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe was leaked to the press in May 2022, CNA has tracked 112 incidents of vandalism attacks against Catholic churches, pro-life pregnancy centers, maternity homes, and other pro-life organizations across the country. These attacks have taken the form of vulgar graffiti, property damage, threats, theft, and arson.

Though a rise in vandalism and intimidation of Catholic and pro-life organizations has been documented since at least 2020, the current spate of attacks has been spurred on by the June 24, 2022, overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court, which returned the question of abortion policy to the states, leading to abortion bans in many parts of the country, including in Missouri.

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