On May 8th, vandals forced their way into the interior of the Santa Croce church in Lomellina. There, they damaged the the votive candle lighting system and ransacked the priest's office. No valuable appeared to be stolen but extent of the damage had not been properly assessed.
The churchyard of the San Rocco church in Ruvo di Puglia, was vandalized on May 6th by unknown perpetrators. Diesel was sprinkled around which caused damage to the sidewalk and floor. Municipal councilor Mariatiziana Rugliani thought the cameras may be able to help identify who did it. He also said of the incident: "An ignoble act, a meaningless disfigurement to a sacred place and to those who lovingly guard it."
The evangelical church in Vöcklabruck, Austria, was vandalized on Friday the 6th of May. Three lights on the pathway outside the church were kicked over, and notices, brochures, leaflets, and prayer books were scattered all over the inside of the church. The microphones were damaged and the offering box was broken open from which money was then stolen. The amount of damage was not entirely clear but the police were investigating.
The outer walls of the parish church in Mautern were sprayed with Nazi symbols on May 6th. Once the police had the relevant details, they were able to identify the perpetrators who were brothers aged 21 and 27 from the Leoben district. The property damage was significant. One graffiti reads "F** Jesus".
A report titled "Persecution of minorities on the grounds of belief or religion," was adopted by the European Parliament in Brussels on May 4th. It has since been called “openly hostile towards religion” by human rights experts since it in places points to religion as a threat and a driver of humanitarian crises. It also failed to mention the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Africa, but states that "sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), including abortion, are being banned in the name of religion." Although the report had some positive points it did not always refer to religion favorably.
In the last weeks of April, there were several thefts of sacred objects from churches in Tuscany. The carabinieri in Florence identified a Romanian individual who was behind most of the crimes as after his home was searched, a number of these items were found including paintings and statues. The police were investigating the crimes to find a possible accomplice.
In the light of the current invasion of Ukraine by Russia, experts and human rights activists are concerned for religious freedom. They fear religious minorities will face the same human rights violations as in Russian controlled areas. Religious groups suffer discrimination in Crimea and the pro-Russian controlled areas of Luhansk and Donetsk.
Hate Crimes against Christians in Europe increased by 70%
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