Pastor urges faithful to pray for vandal who defaced church: ‘That’s being a Christian’

Father Timothy Furlow Father Timothy Furlow speaks from the ambo at St. Patrick’s Church in Portland, Oregon. | Credit: St. Patrick’s Church in Portland, Oregon

A pastor in Portland, Oregon, recently urged his parish to pray for a vandal who defaced the church building with vulgar graffiti, arguing that the controversy gets to the “core message” of the Gospel itself. 

A vandal tagged St. Patrick’s Church in Portland with several graffiti in April that read “[expletive] you, my body my choice,” a popular slogan for the pro-abortion movement. 

In his homily the morning the graffiti was discovered, the parish’s pastor, Father Timothy Furlow, told parishioners that he deliberately left the vulgar message visible for the faithful to see on their way to Mass. 

“I wanted you to see it,” he said. “Somebody said, ‘Oh, we got to cover this up.’ And then I’m like, nope. I want them to see that.” 

“And the reason is because it fits kind of perfectly with what the core message of the Gospel is,” he continued. “The core message here is pretty simple: We can’t do anything good apart from God. Not a thing. We can’t pull a good thing off. It’s just absolutely impossible.”

The pastor indicated the perpetrator is a known vandal around Portland. Furlow said he himself has felt a desire to see the criminal “get his comeuppance.”

“But the other part of me, the part of my heart that the Holy Spirit is working in — that I let him work in — thinks what I really want is for him to be an usher,” he said. 

“I want him to come to my door and say, ‘I have no idea what’s going on. I have never experienced anything like this in my life. But somehow in the core of my being, I know that God is real and Jesus is God.’”

The pastor said he hopes that the vandal would follow that impulse “all the way through OCIA and the sacraments of initiation, into the door that he once cursed and spray-painted.”

Furlow reminded the assembly of Jesus’ command to “pray for those who persecute you.”

“Christianity and Catholicism [is] utterly unlike anything else on the earth because it runs directly contrary to the logic of the world, the flesh, and the devil,” he said. 

The pastor then asked the parish to take a minute to “sincerely pray for that guy and every single person like him in Portland, Oregon, that’s hurting with a broken heart and is turning to the darkness to try to fix it rather than the Lord who is healing himself.” 

“Pray that he’d actually be able to receive that grace and that one day he would be welcoming you at the door to Mass,” he said. 

“That’s being a Christian. That’s truly living our supernatural Catholic faith.”

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