A nativity scene in front of Toronto’s Old City Hall was vandalized for the sixth time in seven years. On the night of Nov. 27, two days after its installation, a woman saw a man walk up to the scene, break the glass, and tear the head off the lamb statue. She called the police, but the vandal fled before the cops came. The police told CP24 that it received the call at around 11:35 p.m. There was an investigation into the incident, but no one was charged.
The display was paid for and set up by Gethsemane Ministries, a Catholic lay movement led by Suresh Dominic. The scene has been vandalized every year since the group started erecting the set in 2005, except in 2011. No one has ever been arrested and the crèche was never targeted twice in one year. “This is a deliberate act; it is not just vandalism,” Dominic said to the Toronto Star. “I would call it a hate crime.”
It will cost about $1,000 to repair the damage. Dominic told The Interim that a company has already donated plexiglass and the damage was repaired within a week. The group will need to find a replacement lamb statue, as the broken one cannot be repaired.
This is the same nativity scene that was ordered, by the City of Toronto in 2009, to remove a sign acknowledging a donation from Campaign Life Coalition Catholic in honour of pro-life hero Fr. Ted Colleton.
This year’s act of vandalism received widespread media coverage. Outlets that reported on it included CP24, CityTV, Global Toronto, the Toronto Star, and the Toronto Sun. “Why is it when somebody destroys a Nativity Scene and cuts the head off a lamb, it’s just tomfoolery but when it happens to a mosque or a synagogue it’s a hate crime?” wrote Toronto Sun columnist Joe Warmington.
“I’m glad (the media) brought it to public notice,” Dominic told The Interim. Despite the repeated acts of vandalism, Gethsemane Ministries has persisted in putting up the nativity scene. “This is the Christmas season … we do it as a gift to the city of Toronto,” he said. The crèche “symbolizes the birth of Christ.”