The Catholic Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown has offered help restore Christ Church after it was desecrated in an attack which has been branded “sickening and vile”.
Vandals who broke into the Infirmary Road Church of Ireland church used smashed bottles of Altar wine to damage the organ there.
Stained glass windows were also smashed, while a bible was flung into the sanctuary and a Communion decanter stolen.
The break-in was discovered by a member of the Church of Ireland parish team on Tuesday evening.
The Archdeacon of Derry, Ven. Robert Miller, who is Rector of Christ Church, said the culprits are thought to have broken in through a stained glass window, and then smashed a panel behind the organ.
“They climbed in behind the organ and used broken glass – probably from bottles of altar wine which they’d smashed – to cut parts of the mechanism which makes the organ work,” he said.
“It appears to have been a case of wanton vandalism. It will be a real trauma for parishioners who worship here and for our neighbours across the road at St Eugene’s, with whom we have the most wonderful relationship.”
Catholic Bishop Dr Donal McKeown meanwhile said: “It was with disappointment and sadness that I heard about the vandalism in Christ Church and the desecration of this important place of worship.
“There has been a long-standing relationship between the congregations in Christ church and St Eugene’s Cathedral across the road.
“I know from talking to parishioners in the Cathedral that they are terribly shocked by this wanton act. This is very distressing for Archdeacon Robert Millar and his parishioners and we want to stand with them at this painful time.
“We will do what we can to help the Church of Ireland congregation get their beautiful church back to its original state so that their regular worship of our common Lord can be resumed.”
The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Ken Good, Said: “This is a very disturbing incident. It is sacrilege and I feel deeply for the parishioners of Christ Church who will be dismayed when they learn of the break-in.
“I can assure them that the people who would perpetrate such an outrage are small in number and in no way represent the vast, vast majority in our community who want to live in peace and harmony. I appeal to the wider community to pray for the congregation.”