San Diego

Vandals Mark University Heights Church with Anti-Gay Graffiti Aimed at Employee

St. John The Evangelist Catholic Church in University Heights was desecrated with hate graffiti aimed at a parish employee.

Pastoral Associate Aaron Bianco returned to the church Monday to find an anti-gay slur spray painted on an office wall.

“I had to step back and kind of get my breath. Just the thought that people are so hateful today," said Bianco.

A sign hanging outside the church says it’s a welcoming and inclusive, but that open mind policy doesn’t sit well with some.

Bianco, an openly gay man, says it’s the umpteenth time he’s been targeted by anti-gay messages in his two years working for the parish.

He keeps a folder of hate mail that’s been mailed to the church and left on his car.

He’s also been the subject of articles posted that claim he and Bishop Robert McElroy are corrupting the church at the parish and diocesan levels.

“Jesus was always welcoming and even if you believe someone is sinful Jesus was still sitting with them, eating with them and having a conversation with them. There was never hate involved,” Bianco said.

He says there have been renewed attacks since a grand jury report in Pennsylvania detailing charges of child sex abuse against priests was released in August.

This latest threat is the first time anyone has violated their space inside the church, which Bianco says has shattered his sense of security.

“It was probably the first time I actually thought, ‘do I want to continue doing this?’” he said.

He’s since decided that he won’t give vandals power over him, and plans to continue his work with the church.

While police investigate the incident, he's checking surveillance video to see if cameras captured the crooks.

The church has also added more cameras to shore up any blind spots.

NBC 7 reached out to the Catholic Diocese of San Diego for comment and was told Bishop McElroy was unavailable.

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