A Derry priest has praised local parishioners who removed offensive anti-clerical graffiti daubed on a church at the weekend.
The word ‘Paedos’ - with an arrow pointing towards the front door entrance - was painted in large black lettering on the front of St Joseph’s in Galliagh some time late on Saturday night or early Sunday morning.
Rev. Michael McCaughey, parish priest of the Three Patrons parish - which includes Galliagh - says both clergy and parishioners were “shocked and distressed” to discover the graffiti.
“This is nothing but pure vandalism,” he said. “It is the very last thing people need to see when they are arriving to say their prayers.”
Rev. McCaughey declined to speculate on whether or not he believed the vandalism was linked to recent allegations of child sex abuse levelled at the Catholic Church.
“We can all speculate as to why this happened but it doesn’t take away the pain and distress that people and priests have been through.
“It certainly doesn’t justify what happened.
“It’s an act of vandalism on a place of worship.”
Rev. McCaughey said it must have been “very distressing and disturbing” for those people who discovered the graffiti.
“Thankfully, local people proud of both their church and their community acted immediately to remove it,” he added.
The priest said he believed a “very small minority” was responsible for the vandalism.
“It serves no purpose but I would ask people to remain vigilant over the coming days.”
The vandalism attack has been condemned by local Sinn Fein councillor Elisha McCallion.
“The chapel plays an important part in the life of the local community and this will cause a lot of upset with local parishioners,” she said.
“Whatever issues people may have with the church authorities, this is certainly not the way to go about it.”