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Vandalism on basilica grounds prompts sorrow, forgiveness for perpetrator

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Two days after the desecration of 16 statues on the grounds of the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Youngstown, Ohio, parishioners who were gathered for Mass Feb. 28 expressed deep sorrow but also forgiveness for the perpetrator.

That day, Youngstown police had apprehended a suspect, Caleb Vancampen, 20, of East Palestine, Ohio, who reportedly confessed to the vandalism committed in the early morning hours of Feb. 26. Police said it helped that the suspect was caught on surveillance video. Vancampen was arraigned for felonious vandalism March 1 in Youngstown Municipal Court. The vandalism garnered extension media coverage and elicited expressions of support and concern from community leaders. Parishioners expressed their heartbreak and outrage in interviews with The Catholic Exponent, newspaper of the Diocese of Youngstown, over the sight of the destroyed statues. "I hope that everyone in this church goes forward to pray for the person who did this," said parishioner Paul Amon. "Yes, I'm upset, but my heart goes out to the young man who did this," said Therese Ivansin, parish director of religious education.

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021