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Pro-life display outside St. Vincent De Paul Church vandalized

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CHARLOTTE — Just hours after it was set up, a pro-life display in front of St. Vincent de Paul Church on Park Road in Charlotte was vandalized.

It’s almost an annual occurrence to the “Cemetery of Innocents,” a pro-life exhibit in observance of the more than 4,000 unborn babies killed daily through abortion in the U.S. But for St. Vincent De Paul Church's Respect Life ministry coordinator, Diane Hoefling, it’s always disturbing.

“We’ve been doing this for more than 15 years. We’ve had the crosses removed. We’ve had signs and banners slashed and stolen. We’ve run the gamut of vandalism,” Hoefling said.

010512prolife-st-vincent1“It’s still always a shock to see it. That there’s this sort of violence to this issue. It’s a shame someone can’t allow the church to speak for the unborn.”

Sometime after the display was set up Jan. 4, someone slashed two large banners featuring pro-life messages. The parish's display is set up annually to coincide with the January 1973 anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized the killing of unborn children.

This year’s display featured 44 crosses and two banners stating: "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you."....GOD (from Isaiah), and "Abortion Kills Babies...every 24 seconds."

"We will pray for the person or persons who damaged our banners," said Father Mark Lawlor, pastor at St. Vincent De Paul. "We will persevere in our prayerful witness to God's Sovereignty over human life.

"Our Cemetery of the Innocents display and banners have been a peaceful witness to the Sanctity of Life. It is certainly not to intended to cause anyone hardship or distress."

Hoefling said the damage most likely happened after dark Wednesday. The damage was noticed early Thursday morning. Charlotte law enforcement was notified of the vandalism.

“I don’t believe it was just a prank. I do believe it has the marks of someone who we’ve hit a nerve with this issue,” she said. “It’s somewhat of a risk when we put it out on Park Road, but it’s on church property. We say a little prayer when we put it out there. We hope it makes an impact on a passerby.”

The goal of the display is to remind passers-by of the tragic toll that abortion has taken on our nation and the city of Charlotte, as well as to educate and inspire others to defend human life and to help mothers in need. The display has generated calls from abortion-minded woman seeking help, some regretting a past abortion and other churches interested in doing their own pro-life displays, Hoefling said. 

“Those who claim to be 'pro-choice' rarely allow for any other choice but abortion. It is clear by this extreme reaction of vandalism at a local church that they will not tolerate any view or 'choice' that differs from theirs,” Hoefling said.

010512prolife-st-vincentChurches and the pro-life community aid women in a crisis pregnancies, help women continue their education throughout their pregnancy, offer post-abortion counseling and speak for the most innocent and voiceless of the human family -- the unborn child.

The damage has rendered these banners useless, but Hoefling said it won’t stop the parish from continuing its witness to the sanctity of all human life, particularly the most vulnerable among us.

“It does cost us money, that’s the hardest part,” she said.

This year, they taped up the signs outside St. Vincent De Paul Church. And they'll order new banners for the future.

— Kimberly Bender, online reporter

For more information on Charlotte’s annual March for Life, set for Jan. 13 through the streets of uptown, click here

FROM THE PASTORS

Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at  parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte: