SEATTLE — The Archdiocese of Seattle believes churches in the city were targeted by vandals in response to unmarked graves found at a Catholic boarding school in Canada over the summer.
Saint James Cathedral was vandalized in July, Saint Benedict in August and Saint Edward Church overnight Sunday.
The three churches were vandalized with similar images and phrases. The buildings were vandalized with broken windows and spray-painted phrases that read "stolen children" and "house of murder."
Seattle police said all three cases have been referred to a bias crime detective.
St. James Cathedral and St. Edward Church said the FBI has also gotten involved. Father Scott Connolly said the FBI is investigating the vandalism as a possible hate crime.
It's believed the vandalism is in response to the discovery of indigenous children's remains found in Canada tied to boarding schools run by Christian churches between the 1800s and 1990s.
Indigenous advocates have called for a formal apology from the Catholic Church and the Pope.
On Wednesday night, the Saint Edward Church congregation prayed outside the building. Father Connolly recited a blessing.
"On Monday, our church, our spiritual home, was damaged... In the dark, our place of faith saw an act of hatred... We see messages written in pain and anger... We recognize the injustice faced by our Native American brothers and sisters... We understand these wounds are part of the history of the Catholic Church... We seek to learn how we can help heal historical and intergenerational trauma," said Father Connolly.
The Archdiocese of Seattle released the following statement regarding the incidents:
“While we are saddened by these acts, our focus remains on the healing of our brothers and sisters who carry the pain of the past. We continue our prayers for the healing that our Native American brothers and sisters seek.”