Suspected vandal faces hate crime charge after major damage to Denver Catholic Cathedral | National Catholic Registry
The suspect faces one charge of criminal mischief and another of bias-motivated felony, the Denver District Attorney’s Office said Jan. 13.
DENVER — A 26-year-old woman has surrendered on two charges related to some $10,000 in vandalism damage to the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver.
Madeline Ann Cramer is facing one charge of criminal mischief and another of bias-motivated felony in connection with an Oct. 10 incident, the Denver District Attorney’s Office said Jan. 13. specific messages consistent with anti-Christian bias,” District Attorney Beth McCann said.
Cramer had fled to Oregon but turned herself in to law enforcement on January 12. According to video posts on social media, she says she was baptized a Catholic but now identifies as a Satanist and opposes Catholic positions against abortion.
News photos of the vandalism showed slogans such as “Satan Lives Here”, “White Supremacists” and “Child Rapists, LOL”, as well as swastikas, written with bright red spray paint outside the cathedral building, sidewalks and on the base of a statue of Pope Saint John Paul II. The pope had visited the cathedral on World Youth Day in 1993.
The graffiti was cleaned up with the help of parishioners and other volunteers.
Father Sam Morehead, rector of the cathedral, said Oct. 11 that the attacker appeared to have “deep personal hurts and grievances” against God and the Church.
In an Oct. 2 video, Cramer said she was raised Catholic and was baptized at St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church in Littleton, Colorado. However, for her, “the Catholic Church has never felt right.”
She said she recently visited the St. Frances Cabrini Church webpage “and saw that they actively support the fight against abortion (sic) across the country.”
Cramer accused the Church “of hating women, you want to control women, you want to silence women”. She closed the video saying, “So stop it, be honest, you’re not filled with love for God, for the baby, for the woman. You’re filled with hate and you know it and we know it.
Deacon Chet Ubowski of St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church tells CNA that Cramer is the woman who approached the altar during mass at the church on Oct. 10, just hours after vandalizing the cathedral. . During her interaction with the celebrant, she claimed to be a Satanist.
Deacon Ubowski said none of the current staff knew or remembered her, adding, “we all have her in our prayers.”
Cramer’s next court appearance is scheduled for February 14.
She has already been convicted of obstructing the police. In 2020, she was sentenced to one year probation and 48 hours of community service.
The Denver Catholic Cathedral had also suffered costly damage in mid-2020 amid racist protests against police brutality linked to the killing of Minnesota man George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. At the time, the church building and parsonage were spray painted with slogans referring to sex offenders or declaring “God is dead” and “There is no God”. There were also anti-police, anarchist and anti-religious phrases and symbols.
The cathedral houses the earthly remains of the Servant of God Julia Greeley, a former slave who converted to Catholicism and was known for her charity to Denver’s poor and her devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Denver Archdiocese spokesman Mark Haas told CNA last year that since February 2020, at least 25 congregations or ministry sites in northern Colorado are known to have been targets of vandalism, destruction of property or theft.
In a November 2021 essay in The Washington Post, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver lamented vandalism, arson, and other destruction that targeted Catholic property. He highlighted the October 10 incident at the cathedral and noted that other religions have seen their own property vandalized.
“As Catholics, we recognize that this is a spiritual crisis,” Bishop Aquila said. “We pray for an end to these horrific attacks and for God’s love to drive out hatred in the perpetrators, no matter who they targeted. Yet as Americans we also clearly see a cultural crisis. People of goodwill, whether religious or not, must condemn and confront societal trends that encourage attacks on places of worship – trends that go far beyond religion.