Anti-Christian attacks rise in Europe
The fire that ripped through the Gothic Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in Nantes July 18 was reported around the world. But suspected arson attacks on French churches usually do not make international headlines.
Following Saturday’s fire at Nantes, the organisation, called L’Observatoire de la Christianophobie has reported several less well-publicized incidents, including the destruction of a crucifix on the Île-d’Arz in Brittany, the slashing of paintings in a church in Auxerre, and the decapitation of a statue of the Virgin Mary in Montaud.
Statistics suggest there are nearly three such attacks a day in France, which is sometimes described as the “eldest daughter of the Church” because the Frankish King Clovis I embraced Catholicism in 496.
The French Interior Ministry recorded 996 anti-Christian acts in 2019 — an average of 2.7 per day. The true figure may be higher, as it is thought that officials do not count fires of undetermined cause at churches across the country.
Ellen Fantini, the director of the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe (OIDACE) in Vienna, said that the trend of rising attacks was not confined to France. OIDACE records attacks on Europe’s churches on its website, but official tallies are hard to come by.
“Most European countries do not provide statistics about anti-Christian incidents. Many don’t even record them as such. Another problem is that many church officials don’t even report incidents — they just sort of get on with it: clean up and move on,” she told CNA.
“Among countries that do report, those numbers are rising, as well. For example, according to the data provided to the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) by the U.K., anti-Christian crimes doubled from 2017 to 2018. We know they are rising in Spain, Germany, and Sweden, as well.”
In England and Wales, the government is offering funding to places of worship facing potential hate attacks.
“Practically, cathedrals, etc, must receive proper protection from civil authorities and any attacks on churches or religious images must be treated as what they are — hate crimes,” he commented.
“Secondly, we must loudly raise our voices to decry these continuing attacks and not be cowed into silence. Our leaders must be courageous.”
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