By Ferdinand Patinio

DESECRATED. Religious images inside the San Isidro Labrador Parish Church in Binalbagan, Negros Occidental are destroyed on April 3, 2024. The Diocese of Kabankalan has ordered the closure of the church until further notice after the incident. (Photo courtesy of San Isidro Parish-Binalbagan Facebook page)

MANILA – The San Isidro Labrador Parish Church in Binalbagan, Negros Occidental is temporarily closed after the destruction and desecration committed on several of its religious items.

“The images of St. Joseph, San Isidro Labrador – the parish patron, Immaculate Conception, two angels, and the Crucifix were partially and totally damaged. The Tabernacle was also disfigured. This untoward incident created a very painful impact on the faith and emotions of all Catholics in Binalbagan. The church will remain closed for a period of time,” Diocese of Kabankalan Bishop Louie Galbines said in a statement Friday.

The order is provided under Canon 1211, which will provide the church the opportunity to repair physical and external damage caused by the perpetrator.

He also noted that the temporary shutdown would help in the healing of the faithful’s minds and hearts due to the unfortunate incident.

“While the physical and external damages may cause so much burden to the parish, it is the internal injury to the minds and hearts of the faithful that concern more to us,” Galbines said.

“(Closure will) allow repair of the images to take place, and this time will also be utilized for all of us to do penitential act in order to effect complete healing to our very hearts and minds.”

During a Mass at about 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday, a man ransacked and desecrated several religious images and items in the church.

The Catholic prelate reported that the suspect, identified as Rolly Semira, is now under police custody.

“He will be made to answer to the crime and damages he created,” Galbines said.

Charges of malicious mischief, alarm and scandal, and interruption of religious worship have already been filed against the suspect in the “unwarranted act.” (PNA)