Anchorage Police Investigate Church Vandalism

An historic Anchorage landmark has been vandalized, and police are saying little about the incident. Late Tuesday afternoon, Anchorage police were contacted by a staffer at the Holy Family Cathedral regarding a burglary and vandalism that had taken place at the church that day.

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Police say the vandals overturned pews, and the pulpit, and other furniture, broke statues and ripped out part of the churches audio system. It does not appear that there was forced entry into the church. Church staff believe the incident happened between 2:30 and 4:30 Tuesday afternoon.

APD spokeswoman Jennifer Castro says police are seeking more information on the case.

Father Steven Moore, with the Archdiocese of Anchorage, says that the vandalism appeared to be random.

“The police are still investigating, but it appears to be more an act of just kind of random, violent vandalism. It does not seem to be motivated by any anti-religious sentiment that we can discern, at least at this point. “

Father Moore  says he is not aware that anything was stolen.

The vandalism highlights a concern by church officials regarding the policy of leaving church doors unlocked.  He  says  that the church remains unlocked and open to the public during the day. Father  Moore says it is a challenge balancing the open door policy with risk to church property.  He says that any decision to change that policy is up to the staff at the cathedral.

“I think everybody would say, that the last option that we would pursue, the last thing that we would want to do is to not have the cathedral open or to restrict the opening of the cathedral. It is a discussion that we are having.”

Father Moore says, however, he is getting positive feedback from the community

“There’s been a real kind of outpouring of concern and an outpouring of people who appreciate the presence of the cathedral and the presence of the Dominicans and downtown and what they are doing, and really are concerned about it. And it’s coming from people from all kinds of faiths and no particular faith and they are concerned and upset. And that’s been really, a real encouraging thing.””

The church’s location downtown is close to the city’s bus station and local businesses.

Holy Family Cathedral is the first church built in Anchorage, and will mark it’s one hundredth anniversary next year. The church was built in 1915, at the request of railroad workers. The landmark building once hosted Pope John Paul II during his historic visit to Alaska in 1981.