Church burglars are beneath contempt
This is traditionally the season of goodwill, but there seems to be little of it in the Clogher Valley, where two churches have been raided by burglars.
Clogher Valley Free Presbyterian Church and St Mary's, which are situated on the main Belfast to Enniskillen Road, were broken into on Tuesday night.
In the former, funds for missionary work raised by its Sunday School, as well as dinner money and audio visual equipment from an adjoining school, were stolen.
Thankfully, nothing was taken at St Mary's, but a door was extensively damaged.
The total loss amounts to at least £10,000, a large sum of money for relatively small churches and a school to make up.
People will be asking what motivated anyone to target the buildings.
Such action is a direct attack on innocent congregations and children, and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
There is something particularly despicable and unsettling about a church being targeted.
Although vital for worship, essentially a church is much more than bricks and mortar. It is a community of Christians, and any attack on the building is also an attack on them.
The point was put well by Clogher Valley councillor Wills Robinson, an elder in the targeted Free Presbyterian church. He said: "This is a pathetic and heartless act against the community who support the church."
There was a time when churches were regarded as sacred spaces, where people could worship and follow their religious observances in relative peace.
This is no longer the case in our troubled society, and there have been many examples in recent years of attacks on churches of different denominations, as well as community halls.
At the moment there seems to be a particular problem with burglaries in the Clogher Valley area, as two break-ins occurred at homes there at the weekend, prior to the raids on the churches.
DUP leader Arlene Foster has condemned the break-ins, and has undertaken to discuss the rising levels of burglary in rural Clogher Valley with the police.
She is right to do so, and anyone with information should contact the PSNI.
Every effort must be made to bring the perpetrators to justice and to punish them accordingly.