An 80-year-old priest, who has a reputation of living his entire life to serve the poor in his south Chicago neighborhood, was viciously beaten and robbed inside his own church early Tuesday morning. Police are still looking for the two men who did it.
According to CBS Chicago, the two men broke into the rectory of St. Margaret of Scotland Church, located on Chicago's South Side, and woke 80-year-old the Rev. Daniel Mallette from his sleep and demanded money. When Mallette did not respond fast enough, the men beat him and ran off with $600.
“He was completely taken by surprise,” said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, a 30-year parishioner of the church and close friend of Mallette. “He was sound asleep in his bed, and was awoken by two people standing there demanding money and threatening to kill him.”
The elderly priest suffered broken ribs and a swollen face from the beating.
“It just reinforces to you that we have evil in our society,” the veteran sheriff said, according to the Chicago Tribune “Here's a person who's lived his life helping people and some vicious animals come in here and do this to him. It just reinforces. . .It's evil.”
Mallette has been at the Chicago parish since 1977 and earned a reputation for fighting inequality and racial injustice in his church's neighborhood.
After being treated at a nearby hospital, Mallette was able to return to his church Tuesday morning to continue his work.
The Chicago church break-in appears to be another example of an increase in crime directed at churches over the past two years.
As The Christian Post reported in November, overall crime decreased between 2009 and 2010, according to national FBI statistics. However, incidents of break-ins and robberies in churches have increased, according to the Christian Security Network (CSN).
According to CSN Executive Director Jeffrey Hawkins, there were 1,237 incidents reported in 2009 and 1,783 in 2010, an increase of nearly 50 percent, according to a report published by the organization.