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Following back-to-back thefts, Denver's Curé d'Ars Catholic Church recovers portion of items while nearby parish's BLM sign remains missing

In the aftermath of two thefts affecting the Black Catholic community in Denver, resolution in one case mixes with confusion and conservatism in the other.

(Wikimedia Commons)

Curé d'Ars Catholic Church, the Black parish in Denver which suffered a devastating robbery late last month—including the confiscation of the Eucharist—is reporting that some of the items stolen have been recovered by Denver police.

An update concerning the matter, including the fact that a suspect is now in custody, was posted to the parish’s Facebook on Saturday evening.

“There was a tabernacle, a ciborium, a communion bowl, and a container used to hold the priest's hosts,” it reads, describing the items found in the possession of the likely culprit.

“These items are clearly ours and have been retrieved from the police department.”

The Eucharist is believed to have been disposed of, though that had not been confirmed at the time of the update. Also unrecovered was the church’s audio-visual equipment.

The thief’s confiscation of the building’s copper wiring has left the church with proper heating and cooling for the past several weeks, a fact also mentioned in the church’s note, but they report that replacements have been ordered and other building repairs are underway.

“The good news is that we do have insurance,” Deacon Clarence McDavid told BCM earlier this month, adding that the parish has insurance but is also accepting donations.

The church’s Facebook post also said that the suspect is believed to have burglarized other churches in the area, though it is unknown whether that includes nearby St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church—which was robbed of a Black Lives Matter sign a few days after the incident at Curé d’Ars.

Just hours before the theft of the sign, St. Ignatius had been asked by Archbishop Samuel Aquila to take it down.

“A banner with just the phrase is easily confused as supporting the [BLM] organization,” chancery officials said in a statement to Westword on September 17th, arguing that the group promotes “practices that are against Catholic Moral Teaching”.

“[We] ultimately asked Saint Ignatius of Loyola Parish to remove the banner or use other words to express their authentic and valid sentiments concerning racial equality.”

St. Ignatius parishioners told Westword that they hope to meet with Aquila on the matter—a request echoed by their pastor Fr Dirk Dunfee, SJ in his comments to BCM—but also that similar requests in the past (concerning politics and racism) did not yield the desired results.

In the meantime, the parish has a public town hall meeting scheduled for tonight at 6pm CT over Zoom, and a racial justice protest at the church on October 7th at 6:30pm.

The archdiocese has yet to comment publicly on the thefts at either parish.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).

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