More and more Christian religious buildings are being vandalized in Europe, notes an observatory which is concerned about intolerance towards Christianity. Recently, a thousand-year-old church suffered the ordeal of flames in Germany.
Damage estimated at several million euros, the high altar destroyed, the damage is colossal in the Church of the Elevation of the Cross in Wissen, western Germany. On February 10, a 39-year-old man set fire to the Catholic place of worship, plunging the small town into sadness. The parish priest, Father Martin Kürten, who speaks of a "void" left in the community, adds that "what is frightening is the determination and the brutality with which the aggressor proceeded".
Interviewed by DomRadio.de, a German Catholic media, Father Martin explained that the place of worship had just been renovated after three years of work following smoke damage. "Based on this experience, I'm sure it's going to cost in the seven figures, but no amount of money can represent what the altar meant to the people here." The consecrated table had been acquired after the city fires of 1788 and 1804.
A sign of the region's attachment to the church, a vigil was organized not on the initiative of the local Catholic community, but of various associations, Christian or not, underlines the priest who specifies that all the slices of age felt concerned, people from different parties and even from other faiths.
The city councilor, Berno Neuhoff, is encouraged by the reaction of the population "People are stunned, sad and shocked, but Wissen is standing together. There is an impressive spontaneous sign of solidarity, prayer and a show of forgiveness in front of our church for the arsonist."
Acts that are developing in Europe and Canada
“How would you feel if you found out that your parish or the church you are going to will have to suspend service due to arson and acts of vandalism?” says Madeleine Enzlberger, the Observatory's executive director. for the Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians (OIDAC), based in Vienna, Austria, an organization that speaks out against growing intolerance and discrimination against Christians.
Among the questions that agitate Enzlberger, that of motivations: "Why would someone do such a thing?". The OIDAC relays various criminal acts of this type and notes that churches had been attacked a few weeks earlier in France, in Paris. Between January 17 and 25, Notre-Dame-de-Fatima had suffered two arsonist acts without the fires being able to spread inside, but the fire had been able to enter the church of Saint-Martin-des- Fields.
In a January 2020 article titled "Burning Christianity" translated by the journal Conflits, the British magazine The Spectator recalls the figures of the French Ministry of the Interior which recorded 878 acts of vandalism against places of worship, cemeteries and Christian sanctuaries in 2017, a figure representing "an average of nearly two sites and half a day". The causes are not necessarily anti-Christian, they may be thieves taking advantage of the fact that the clergy insist on leaving the churches open so that people can pray there or contemplate the works of art. In 2018, 129 churches were robbed.
But sometimes anti-Christian motivations are overt, such as the destruction of graves in a Catholic cemetery in Zabrzu-Helence, Poland in 2019, for desecration. In the same year, individuals threw hosts around the altar in the Rosa Chapel in Cordoba, Spain. As the Spectator notes, "Catholicism teaches that the host is the body of Christ, it is hard to believe that the perpetrators of these acts did not know what they were doing." The magazine observes the silence of the political authorities.
The same silence of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was denounced in Canada when 68 churches were burnt down in 17 days in June and July 2021.