A statue of Jesus was found beheaded and removed from its pedestal outside a Catholic church in southern Florida.
Father Edvaldo DaSilva of Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Southwest Miami said he found the defaced statue of Jesus on the ground Wednesday morning. When asked if the statue fell over on its own, DaSilva expressed his doubt.
"Obviously not, that's for sure. They had some powerful hands to remove it. Seeing what is happening in our country, I presume so, but we don't have 100% assurance," he told local reporters.
The Archdiocese of Miami called the vandalism a "hate crime" and anticipates the police will approach it as such.
"The Archdiocese of Miami expects the police to investigate this desecration of the Jesus Christ statue.... This crime reflects the increasing attacks on the Catholic church across the country," a statement reads.
Although the church does have surveillance cameras, none of them point to where the statue once stood.
DaSilva said the act will only strengthen the faith of his congregation.
"As a Christian community, we pray for those that have done that that the Lord will forgive them and grant them the gift of conversion," DaSilva said.
The church replaced the statue with a vase of flowers and a sign reading, "God wins over evil."