Two Arrests Made in Vandalism Incidents at Catholic Churches in Brooklyn Diocese

Graffiti defaced a Blessed Mother statue at one parish; the Eucharist was desecrated at another church.

Jonathan Bulik, 37, of Brooklyn, has been arrested and charged in connection with the July 8 desecration of a statue of the Blessed Mother at Resurrection Church in Brooklyn, New York.
Jonathan Bulik, 37, of Brooklyn, has been arrested and charged in connection with the July 8 desecration of a statue of the Blessed Mother at Resurrection Church in Brooklyn, New York. (photo: Photo courtesy of the Diocese of Brooklyn / via CNA)

Arrests were made Saturday in two separate vandalism incidents at Catholic churches in the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York. 

At Resurrection Church in Brooklyn, a white marble statue of the Blessed Mother was spray-painted with black graffiti on her face, shoulders and hands.

The word “fake” was written on the statue as well as what appears to be an upside-down cross, a symbol not seldomly seen in vandalism incidents on Catholic sites.

Jonathan Bulik, 37, of Brooklyn, was charged with criminal mischief as a hate crime in connection with the attack. He was seen spray-painting the statue by two parishioners who stopped him in the act on Saturday, according to The Tablet, the diocese’s news outlet.

Another incident occurred on Saturday at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Astoria by the same man who allegedly desecrated the church in early June.

On July 8, Jaime Bonilla walked into the church and began “acting erratically, disturbing the youth choir practice, and frightening the children,” the diocese said in a statement Saturday.

No one was hurt, and no damage was caused to the church, the diocese said.

The police were called, and the 22-year-old from Queens was arrested and charged with criminal mischief in connection with the vandalism incident in June.

During the incident on June 5, Bonilla allegedly destroyed framed photos of Pope Francis and Brooklyn Bishop Robert Brennan. In addition, he spread paint thinner on the basement floor and dressed up in priestly vestments, a June statement from the Diocese of Brooklyn said. 

One of the priests found Bonilla in the church’s adoration chapel “violently hitting himself in the head with a monstrance,” which is typically a golden vessel used to display the Eucharistic Host, the statement said.

The diocese said that Bonilla then ran to the main sanctuary, opened the tabernacle, and threw consecrated Eucharistic Hosts onto the floor.

Police arrived and cuffed Bonilla but released him to Elmhurst Hospital for an evaluation, the diocesan statement said. 

“The Diocese of Brooklyn is grateful to the parishioners and staff in both incidents who stepped in to hold the perpetrators until the police arrived,” the diocese’s most recent statement said. 

Another attack on a Catholic church in Miami occurred in early June, resulting in the arrest of a 44-year-old woman who allegedly spray-painted the words “perverts,” “pigs,” “liars” and an upside-down cross on the church wall, a sign and columns within the courtyard of the church’s school.

In May, a 41-year-old woman was arrested and charged in connection with causing more than $78,000 in damages in an arson attack at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines, Illinois.

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