A crucifix vandalized outside of a Brooklyn church and discovered Friday morning is being investigated by the NYPD as a possible hate crime, the Diocese of Brooklyn said.
The wooden crucifix displayed at St. Athanasius Roman Catholic Church, located in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, was found face down in the grass next to the school affiliated with the church.
Monsignor David Cassato, the parish's pastor, was walking to greet students around 8 a.m. Friday when he discovered the statue of Jesus Christ toppled from its position. The crucifix was installed more than 10 years ago in memory of Cassato's mother, diocese officials said. They plan to make repairs to the statue and return it to its post.
“This was truly an act of hatred and today is the saddest day of my twenty years here at this parish,” said Monsignor David Cassato. “I went over and spoke to the students in the school about what happened, telling them that hate never wins. We are, and must be, a community that continues to share the message of Easter, that which is of love, hope, and forgiveness.”
Get Tri-state area news and weather forecasts to your inbox. Sign up for NBC New York newsletters.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement on Saturday saying "hate has no place in our state."
"I am disgusted to learn that St. Athanasius Church, a historically Italian American place of worship in Brooklyn, has been vandalized. These acts of hate should offend and outrage every New Yorker, and I want the Bensonhurst community to know we will do everything we can to bring the cowardly vandals responsible for this to justice," the governor said.