Monday Morning Linkage 031008
**Update 2--photos of the missionaries released:
Click to enlarge
**Update 1--Mormon missionary trio vandalizes the Stations of the Cross Catholic shrine in southern Colorado, discovered after photos uploaded to Photobucket:
Mormon leaders were at a loss Sunday to explain three young missionaries' alleged vandalism of a Catholic shrine in the San Luis Valley. The three unidentified men, ages 19 and 20, face punishment from the church and possibly Costilla County.The trio will be charged at the request of the church, including at least 2 felonies:
"We have a history of people doing things like this to us, so we're mortified that our missionaries would do it to someone else," said Robert Fotheringham, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission president who oversees the region that includes the San Luis Valley. "It's beyond embarrassing. It's inexcusable."
Fotheringham said the act was "completely out of character" for the three, who had distinguished themselves serving poor and elderly people in the valley.
The Sangre de Christo Parish council, based in San Luis, voted 7-0 Sunday to turn the matter over to Costilla County authorities.
The LDS church has chosen not to identify the men, but their names will become public record if local authorities file criminal charges. Calls to the Costilla County Sheriff's Office were not returned Sunday.
The incident happened in 2006 but erupted into a controversy last week when a member of the parish discovered three photos of the missionaries mocking the shrine on the photo-sharing website Photobucket.
One photo shows an LDS missionary holding a head broken off a statue in the Shrine of the Mexican Martyrs at the Chapel of All Saints on the butte above the town of San Luis.
The damaged statue depicts martyr Manuel Morales, the 28-year-old president of Mexico's National League for the Defense of Religious Liberty who died before a Mexican firing squad in 1926 for refusing to recognize laws he saw as anti-religion.
Another photo showed a missionary appearing to preach from the Book of Mormon at the altar inside the All Saints chapel. A third photo depicts one missionary pretending to sacrifice another at an altar.
Members of the Sangre de Cristo parish of the Roman Catholic Church voted Sunday to pursue criminal charges against three Mormon missionaries who allegedly vandalized a shrine and committed sacrilegious acts in the church.More charges possible:
The Pueblo Chieftain reported that church members saw photos on the Web showing the Mormons in the shrine. Although the incidents occurred in 2006, they came to the attention of the parish only when they were seen on the Internet site Photobucket.
Alonzo Payne, a parishioner and lawyer, said he was asking the Costilla County sheriff to pursue charges on behalf of the parish.
Sheriff's Cpl. Scott Powell told the Chieftain the men, who were not identified, could face up to six charges, including felonies for criminal mischief and conspiracy.
Costilla County Sheriff Gilbert Martinez said his office would begin its investigation today. Possible charges include desecration of a venerated object, criminal trespass, defacing property and bias-motivated crime.Whoops. Probably not the sort of outreach the LDS had in mind--but most certainly confined to the three hoodlums in question.
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