Vandals shattered stained-glass windows depicting passages from Jesus, destroyed a statue of the Virgin Mary, and damaged furniture Wednesday night at the Beit Jamal Monastery, according to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
Its the third time in four years the monastery, which is located adjacent to Beit Shemesh outside of Jerusalem, has been vandalized.
In a Friday statement, Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem, called for tolerance after deeming the ransacking “not only an act of vandalism, but an act against the sacredness of the holy places and the faith of people.”
“The Holy Land is deep [with] faith and culture,” continued Marcuzzo. “We must live together with the diversity of beliefs. It is absolutely necessary to accept others, to accept each other in our diversity.”
In a strongly-worded statement, the Council of Catholic Churches in Jerusalem demanded the suspects be arrested and brought to justice.
“The State of Israel, with all its institutions concerned, [must] punish [those] who were responsible for such acts, because they could easily lead to serious and unpredictable consequence, which would be most unwelcome in the current tense religious climate,” the Council cautioned.
Police said an investigation has been opened into the incident.
The monastery was last vandalized in January of last year, when Monks of the Salesian Order discovered dozens of cruciform tombstones knocked over.
In 2013, the same monastery was attacked with a firebomb, which caused minor damage, and the words “price tag” were spray painted on an exterior wall of the building.
The cemetery was also desecrated in a similar incident in 1981.
Following the 2016 vandalism of its cemetery, the Latin Patriarchate called on police to do more to apprehend the suspects, who still have not been arrested.
“We condemn this incident, and remind all that this is not the first of its kind committed in recent years, most of which remain registered as if committed by ‘unknown assailants,’” the organization said at the time.
“Therefore, we urge the police in specific, and the Israeli authorities in general, to invest every possible effort to bring those responsible for these desecrations to justice as soon as possible.”
The Latin Patriarchate continued, “We do hope that more efforts [will] be made to educate all inhabitants of the country to respect each other, despite their different religious backgrounds.”