DETECTIVES are investigating a loyalist bid to try and torch a Catholic church in Newtownabbey.
St Mary’s Star of the Sea on the Shore Road was damaged in a petrol bomb attack on Sunday.
Thugs also threw paint over the front of the church.
It is the fifth time in as many months that loyalists have targeted the church.
Hoax devices have been left in the grounds of the church.
On one occasion a device was left at the church shortly before Saturday evening Mass was to begin forcing worshippers to move to another church.
Parish priest Fr Anthony Alexander said: “I just can’t work out why it is happening.
“I can’t guess why they are doing it and I find it hard to understand why people would vandalise somewhere, let a lone a place of worship,” he said.
“The police and members of the local community and other churches have been very supportive and helpful.
“It is upsetting, particularly for the older members of the congregation.
DUP North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has condemned attack and has called for those behind it to be caught and brought before the courts.
Sinn Féin councillor Gerry O’Reilly said the attack was “despicable and completely sectarian”.
“St Mary’s has been targeted repeatedly and this attack was the latest in this series of incidents,” he said.
“I’m calling for those within unionism to stand shoulder to shoulder with St Mary’s parishioners and use whatever influence they have to end the attacks.”
Detectives in Newtownabbey have appealed for anyone with information about the petrol and paint bomb attack to contact them on 0845 600 8000.