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US$2 million tabernacle is stolen from a Brooklyn church, police say

NEW YORK — When the Rev. Frank Tumino entered the sanctuary at St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn on Saturday (May 28) for the start of what was supposed to be a beautiful holiday weekend, the cathedral’s sacred space was missing something special — worth about US$2 million (S$2.74 million).

A tabernacle made of 18-karat gold and covered in jewels was stolen from the St. Augustine Cathedral in Brooklyn.

A tabernacle made of 18-karat gold and covered in jewels was stolen from the St. Augustine Cathedral in Brooklyn.

NEW YORK — When the Rev. Frank Tumino entered the sanctuary at St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn on Saturday (May 28) for the start of what was supposed to be a beautiful holiday weekend, the cathedral’s sacred space was missing something special — worth about US$2 million (S$2.74 million).

Someone, Mr Tumino discovered, had apparently entered the church with a power saw, cut open the altar that housed the Holy Eucharist — the items used for the sacrament of Holy Communion — stolen the altar’s solid-gold tabernacle and decapitated a statue of an angel. Holy items taken from the tabernacle had been strewn across the altar.

“To know that a burglar entered the most sacred space of our beautiful church and took great pains to cut into a security system is a heinous act of disrespect,” Mr Tumino said in a statement issued Sunday by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn.

The church, a large brownstone building nestled in the heart of the Park Slope neighbourhood and known as the area’s “Notre Dame,” began as an anchor for Brooklyn’s German and Irish Catholic communities in 1888. The stolen tabernacle, which is 18-karat gold and covered in jewels, was made the same year, according to police.

Investigators believe the burglary happened between 5.30 pm Thursday (5.30 am, Singapore time) and 4 pm Saturday, police said. The church was closed and under construction at the time, and the sanctuary’s security cameras were not operating, police said.

The Brooklyn Diocese said in its statement that church officials believed the break-in happened sometime Friday. A safe in the church was also cut open, but it was empty, the diocese said in the statement.

In the statement, the diocese called the burglary “a brazen crime of disrespect and hate.” Police said the crime was not being investigated as bias-related at the moment. A suspect had not yet been identified, and law enforcement officials were still determining whether the crime was committed by an individual or a group, police said.

 

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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theft church tabernacle brooklyn New York

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