More than a dozen parishes in Sydney's south are now using security firms to pickup Sunday collections after a spate of thefts at suburban churches.Brighton-Le-Sands parish priest Fr Peter Lynch is also considering security patrols at his church after a thief broke down the door to the parish office on April 15 and stole keys to take money from donation boxes for the poor, the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader reports.
Fr Lynch said the threat of robbery and vandalism at his church was a sad sign of the times.
He said his parishioners considered crimes on churches to be "sacrilegious".
"We have about 600 people who come to Mass here and they all feel very upset that someone would violate a religious building like this," he said.
"Any theft is horrible, but when it is from a church, a sacred place, it is very upsetting to the community."
Fr Lynch said he has had a lot of contact with police since arriving as parish priest two years ago - windows to the church have been smashed and the building vandalised with graffiti.
Earlier this year, in three separate attacks, thieves stole copper pipes from the exterior of the church to sell for scrap.
St Francis Xavier Church at Arncliffe was also targetted.
The archdiocese spokesman said several churches and presbyteries across Sydney had fallen victim to robberies.
"The Archdiocese of Sydney has encouraged our priests to be very sensitive about security," the spokesman said.
"Churches are vulnerable places, but we want them to be accessible to people who wish to enter to pray or reflect."
Is nothing sacred? (St George and Sutherland Shire Leader, 6/5/08)