The incidents show that the epidemic of vandalic attacks against places of worship is now extending to Austria
by PierLuigi Zoccatelli
Bitter Winter has repeatedly reported about attacks against Christian churches in Europe and in the United States. One country that seemed comparatively less affected by this epidemic of hate crimes and vandalism was Austria. Cases had been reported, particularly in Graz, but were less frequent than in neighboring countries. However, the Vienna-based Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe and local Austrian media denounced several recent cases.
On April 28, graffiti hailing Satan appeared in Graz in the church of St. Vincent. The word “Satan,” the number 666, and upside-down crosses were painted in red both on the outside walls and inside the church, on the altar. Red spray paint was also used to deface the statue of an angel. A Bible was burned.
Parish priest Wolfgang Pucher did not believe that this was just juvenile vandalism, and saw the incident as part of a “systematic assault on Christianity.” Also recalling the previous incidents in Graz, the spokesperson for the local Catholic diocese, Thomas Stanzer, connected the attack with “displeasure” towards the Catholic Church. Such “displeasure” is sometimes fueled by the very media that condemned the attack.
On May 6, vandals targeted an evangelical church in Vöcklabruck, in Upper Austria. The unknown perpetrators broke the donation box and stole the money. However, it was not a simple theft, since they destroyed three path lights in front of the church and went on a rampage inside the sanctuary, destroying a microphone and scattering all over notices, brochures leaflets, which had been placed near the altar for free withdrawal. They also tried to damage the organ.
Also on May 6, the external walls of the Catholic parish church in Mautern, in Styria, were sprayed with Nazi symbols and anti-Christian slogans. Two brothers aged 21 and 27 were identified as perpetrators.