Debate: Is it a sin to destroy a blasphemous artwork?

"Immersion - P--- Christ", a 1987 photograph by American artist Andres Serrano, pictured after it was attacked on Sunday (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

On Palm Sunday protesters in Avignon tried to smash a blasphemous work of art with a hammer. The artwork, called “P— Christ”, was a photograph of a statue of Christ submerged in urine. Its display had provoked anger among Christians in France: last Saturday about 1,000 people marched in protest against it. Archbishop Jean-Pierre Cattenoz of Vaucluse called the work (by Andres Serrano) “odious”.

Were the protesters right to try to destroy it? It is sinful, surely, to vandalise private property. Except, perhaps, if there is a greater good: that of removing something from view that seems to express hatred of God.

Liz Lev, an art historian at Duquesne University, told EWTN:

While violent destruction isn’t the answer for much of anything, when a work of art is of such provocation that it offends one’s faith – be that Islam, Judaism or Christianity – then it is, to some extent, an act of conscience on the part of the faithful to avoid seeing his or her God denigrated in this fashion.

So, is it sinful to destroy a blasphemous work of art? Or can it be a morally legitimate act?