The Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe details incidents in several countries.
by PierLuigi Zoccatelli
Although in March and April 2021 many Europeans were still quarantined because of COVID-19, this did not prevent vandalism against Christian churches and statues to continue.
Reports by the Vienna-based Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe list an alarming number of cases across Europe.
Although Catholic churches were the primary targets, there were incidents involving Protestant places of worship as well. During the night of March 19, attackers attempted to set fire to the vestibule of the Protestant church in Glonn, Upper Bavaria. Flyers and leaflets were set on fire. The entrance door, a side table and a carpet were burnt, although happily the fire did not spread to the whole church.
On March 20, St George’s Church in Freistett, in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, was attacked by unknown persons who severely damaged the organ and vandalized the internal part of the sanctuary.
Also on March 20, unknown perpetrators smashed a window of the Church of Santa Maria della Speranza in Catanzaro, Italy, by throwing stones against it. The city’s mayor denounced the incident as an anti-Catholic hate crime.
In the same weekend, windows were smashed at Sacred Heart Church in Singen, Baden-Württemberg. In the same state, on March 22, an act of vandalism and property damage amounting to several thousand Euros, occurred at a church in Rheinau.
The church of Saint Simon and Judas in Golasecca, in the Italian province of Varese, had the dubious privilege of being attacked twice, on March 21 and April 18. Known as “the Lazzaretto church” because it was built during the plague epidemic of 1630, the church was vandalized by unknowns who broke into it at night.
On March 22, attackers tried to set on fire the chapel in the Saint-Louis Hospital in La Rochelle, France. They did not succeed but smashed a statue of Jesus and smeared the altar cloth with a yellow liquid.
During the night of March 25, arsonists attacked St. Bernhard Church in Baden-Baden, also in Baden-Württemberg, by throwing a flammable object inside the sanctuary through a smashed window.
Also on March 25, media reported that the Holy Temple of Mount Calvary in Foggia, Italy, popularly known as the Church of the Crosses, had been attacked by vandals who had spray-painted the baroque building with obscene symbols.
On March 26, an arsonist tried to set fire to the Anglican Church of St. Paul’s, in Wokingham, Berkshire, England.
On March 28, the Church of St. Peter in Linz, Austria, was severely damaged by a fire attack by an arsonist, and its wooden altar was destroyed.
On March 31, attackers caused considerable damage to the Servite Church in Innsbruck, Austria.
On the night of April 4, Easter Sunday, the church of Aichach, Bavaria, had its facade tagged with anti-Catholic slogans, denouncing the Catholic Church as “hypocritical” and “pedophile.”
On the evening of Easter Monday, April 5, arsonists tried to set fire to the Church of the Assumption of St. Mary, in the German city of Gelsenkirchen.
On April 11, in Höxter, in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia, the ornamental organ pipes of the Church of St. Anne were destroyed. Between April 12 and 16, at the Maxkirche in Düsseldorf, a woman captured by security cameras threw candles, candlesticks, floral arrangements, and altar clocks on the floor.
In the night between April 11 and 12, the cemetery of the Catholic church of Mosina, in Poznań County, Poland, was attacked and vandalized.
On April 15, the door of the church of Saints Jacopo and Filippo in Montecatini Alto, in Tuscany, was burned by unknown arsonists.
On 19 April, in front of the Polish Church of the Assumption in Paris, the bust of Pope John Paul II was sprayed with red paint.
On April 26, blasphemous graffiti were painted on the parish church of Gussago, in the Italian province of Brescia. Surveillance cameras were smashed.
These incidents, the Observatory notes, do not have a single cause. In the case of Gussago, the perpetrators were probably young men against whom the parish priest had filed a complaint because of their noisy behavior outside the church during the celebrations. Other cases appear more serious, follow a pattern observed in the last few years both in Europe and the United States, and seem to be connected with hate messages against the Catholic Church and Christianity spread through social media and the Internet in general.