Orthodox Church in America
ANCHORAGE, AK [OCA} — Vandals hit Saint Innocent Cathedral here on Wednesday, June 9, 2010, pillaging the altar’s liturgical appointments and burning pages of the Gospel Book. Several other items were stolen.
According to media reports, the suspects entered through windows in the back of the cathedral some time between midnight and 11:00 a.m. Wednesday.
“The Gospel that was thrown and ripped that we use during the Gospel reading and the hand cross that we use was totally destroyed, cannot be used again,” Father Peter Chris told KTUU Channel 2 News, adding that while the break-in was not the first at the cathedral, it was the worst.
His Grace, Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West, Locum Tenens of the Diocese of Alaska, addressed the issue in a letter to the clergy and faithful of the diocese, the text of which reads as follows.
“It is with great sadness that I have to report the Cathedral of Saint Innocent in Anchorage was broken into the night before last and the altar pillaged and violated. Yesterday, I received a tearful call from Father Peter Chris who came to the Cathedral to find the altar in shambles. Many of the items in the altar were senselessly and shamefully damaged and defaced for no apparent reason. Several items were stolen. The reserved sacrament is intact, as are the relics and the antimensions. But, the Gospel Book on the main altar had pages torn out of it and showed signs that the vandals tried to burn them. The police have investigated and are on top of things.
“We are grateful to God that more damage was not done and that no one was hurt. Please pray for the souls of the people who committed this crime against God and His Church. The condition of the Cathedral, in a very sad way, reflects the spiritual destruction and damage that exists in a human soul that would do such a thing. How truly sad it is that a human being, brought into being by God for no other reason than to share His incomprehensible, divine love, a human being created in His image could mar and deface that image in such a terrible way.
“What is lost or damaged in the Cathedral are only material things. The damage we human beings do to our own souls is much more serious. This should also be a reminder to us all that in this evil age, we need to be methodical about securing our churches from such desecration by mindless, fallen men.”