ROME — Incidents of vandalism and arson of Christian churches have spiked in recent weeks in Germany and France, a Vienna-based watchdog group reports.
Three churches were torched in Paris over the course of just one week, from January 17-26, revealed the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe (OIDACE) in a report Monday.
Unknown perpetrators threw Molotov cocktails at the church of Saint Martin des Champs and then at the church of Saint-Laurent in the 10th district. The church of Notre-Dame-de-Fatima in the 19th arrondissement was the victim of two separate arson attacks, one on January 17 and the second on January 22.
According to one source, the door of the church building of Notre-Dame-de-Fatima was sprayed with a flammable liquid and then ignited using newspapers.
Following the attacks, the Parisian judicial police opened an investigation into “religiously motivated voluntary damage by means of incendiary devices.”
While Emmanuel Grégoire, first deputy mayor of Paris, has promised increased prevention and surveillance measures near places of worship, so far nothing has succeeded in reducing the number of attacks.
The week prior to these incidents, the Saint-Louis Roi church in Champagne-au-Mont-d’Or (Rhône) was the victim of very significant damage as a vandal destroyed a crucifix, stations of the cross and a painting in the choir, damaged the church’s nativity scene, broke two stained glass windows, and tossed to the ground candles, books, and sacred vessels.
“Because of their violence and their target, these constitute what the Church calls a profanation, that is to say the intent to attack the sanctity of the place,” declared the local bishop, Olivier de Germay.
Meanwhile, in Germany a vandal desecrated the historical Baroque Church of the Cross in Wissen on February 10 causing damage estimated in the millions of euros, OIDACE noted.
The police have apprehended the 39-year-old alleged perpetrator of the crime, who reportedly smashed open the back door of the church with stones, demolished religious symbols, and set fire to the 17th-century high altar, which was completely destroyed. Wall and ceiling paintings, restored only last year, also were destroyed by the flames.
According to parish priest Father Martin Kürten, the church will remain closed at least for the rest of 2023 as damages are assessed and repairs begin.
Local mayor Berno Neuhoff said that the attack left people “stunned, sad, and shocked,” but pointed to an “impressive spontaneous sign of solidarity, prayer and gesture of forgiveness” following the incident.
Thomas D. Williams is Breitbart Rome Bureau Chief and the author of The Coming Christian Persecution.
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