A statue of the infant Jesus of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie was found destroyed on New Year's Eve. The figure was found with its arm and head cut off. The head is still missing. The village, which has only 198 inhabitants, is wondering who could have done such a thing.
As it was reported at the end of December 2023, the nativity scene in Piazza della Repubblica in Monfalcone, Italy, has been attacked. The statuette of baby Jesus was found decapitated and smashed to pieces. The police are investigating. The mayor, Anna Maria Christi, said that everything is being done to find those responsible.
On December 30, a nativity scene was destroyed in the Setticamini area of Rome, Italy. The crib was built by the citizens. The vandals "destroyed the face of Mary, they broke the hand of Saint Joseph, they tore down all the decorations and scattered them everywhere".
On January 29, Don Severino Bernardini, the parish priest of Sant'Agnese, noticed that the crib was empty: the baby Jesus had been stolen. This is not the first time that this has happened in the parish. Hopefully the priest, who is a man of vision, had another baby figurine in stock. However, Don Severino left a note in the cradle to try and move the thief's heart: "Please take me back to my crib". Although the missing figurine has been replaced, the parish priest hopes that the thief will return the stolen baby Jesus.
On December 26, unknown perpetrators set fire to the entrance of Maria Namen Parish Church in the 16th district of Vienna, Austria. A construction site toilet, which had been placed at the entrance of the church due to current rennovations, has been set on fire and completely melted. Apparently, fire accelerants must have been used. The parish priest, Jesus David Jean Villalobos, suspects arson.
In Muggio, Italy, vandals damaged the Nativity scene by destroying first a sheep and later the statue of baby Jesus. The act was caught by the security camera and handed over to the police. Also, the parish priest of the Madonna del Castagno pastoral community, Don Maurizio Tremolada, published a video on his Facebook page showing the young people who entered the hut around 26 December and wrote a letter addressed to those who had destroyed the statue of the baby Jesus. In the letter, he invites the perpetrators to make up for their actions.
A 30-year-old man from Tajikistan has been arrested in connection with the terror warning for Cologne's Cathedral. Shortly before Christmas, the German police had received indications about a planned terrorist attack on the Cathedral. The police presumes an Islamist extremist motive. Cologne's Cathedral has been closed outside church service hours due to security concerns since Christmas.
On Christmas Eve, street cameras caught a group of people damaging the nativity scene on the sqaure of Uboldo. The figures were "furiously kicked, punched and beaten". Someone also sat on the cradle and damaged it. The Major has announced that appropriate action will be taken.
Austria has increased security measures over Christmas due to threats of Islamist terror attacks. The suspected targets should have been Vienna's Cathedral and a few other churches. The Tajik man arrested in Germany was allegedly part of a terrorist group discovered in Vienna. The police is suspecting an Islamist terrorist motive and a connection to the ISIS-K (Islamic State - Khorasan Province). Although the suspect fled, a few other suspected terrorists, namely a man from Chechnya, another Tajik man and a woman from Turkey, were arrested before Christmas. The fugitive was arrested in Germany and is awaiting extradition to Austria.
On December 23, three juvenile residents vandalised a church in Gostynin, Poland. The walls of the church was spray painted in blue. The tags show insults and possible slogans related to Catholicism. A police investigation was launched and the vandals were identified thanks to the city surveillance.
On the 23rd of December, it was reported that a statuette of the nativity scene in the church of Valdagno was stolen. Now, the crib will be secured behind bars. The thieves stole the statue of a priest holding a monstrance and by doing so they also damaged the door, some pews and the steps to the entrance door, where another statue was ripped off. The police were notified.
Between December 23 and 30, three figures were stolen from the nativity scene in St Anthony's Church in Amberg, Germany. In addition, a fourth figure was completely smashed. The police are asking anyone with information to contact them.
St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church in Södertälje, Sweden, was the target of a raid on 20 December. Intruders gained access through a window leading to a room used for various ceremonies and stole valuable items with great sentimental value for the community. “We didn’t expect this. We are facing an empty altar before Christmas,” said Alexander Sharoyan, the church’s representative. A police investigation has been initiated.
On December 20, a fire destroyed the nativity scene in the parish church of Brentonico, Rome. A woman raised the alarm when she saw the church was completely filled with smoke. The parish priest, Don Daniele Laghi, suspects arson, as the nativity scene had already vandalised a few weeks ago. The police have opened an investigation to establish the facts.
Between December 19 and January 3, unknown persons broke and pulled down several headstones in the graveyard of Saint Eunan's Cathedral in Raphoe, Ireland. Some were broken, other stones were pulled out of the ground. Local police are appealing to anyone with information about the vandalism.
A German High Court rejected the claim that the presence of a cross infringes on the religious freedom of the plaintiffs. On December 19, the Federal Administrative Court of Leipzig dismissed a lawsuit against a Bavarian decree (Kreuzerlass) from 2018, which required the display of crosses in public institutions "as an expression of the historical and cultural identity of Bavaria".
Livia Tossici-Bolt, a 63-year old charitable volunteer, has filed a complaint against officers who forced her off a public street where she was peacefully praying and holding a sign. While the officers accused her of breaching the local "buffer zone" legislation, Mrs. Tossici-Bolt was actually not standing within the zone, as video evidence confirms.
In the German town Rüsselsheim all figures of a nativity scene, including the depiction of baby Jesus, Joseph, Mary and the three Wise Men, have been beheaded in an act of vandalism. The damage was discovered on December 17. According to a report, the nativity scene, which was part of a Christmas marked, looked like a battlefield and the figure of Jesus in the manger was found beneath the rubble.
On December 14, a nativity scene displayed on the main square in Markó, Hungary, was destroyed by unknown persons. The nativity scene, which was awarded the most beautiful in the country in 2020, was found with all the human figures decapitated, while the animal figures were untouched. The incident was reported to the police. Some of the figures appear to have been damaged beyond repair.
In the past months, three Protestant Christians have been sentenced to jail for conscientious objections to military service on religious grounds in Ukraine. One of them, Dmytro Zelensky, is imprisoned after his acquittal was reversed by the Ternopil Appeal Court in August 2023. He has been sentenced to three years in prison and is currently preparing his appeal to the High Court.
The French Minister of Interior, Gérald Darmanin, announced on 10 December that he would present in “the coming weeks” to the Council of Ministers the dissolution of Academia Christiana, a youth-movement of traditional Catholics which since its foundation in 2013 has brought together thousands of young Christians in its training courses and summer schools. According to the minister, the decision was made on the fact that the movement is "inciting hatred and discrimination." Academia Christiana has already announced that they will challenge then ban in court.
On December 9, the Austrian Heiligenkreuz Abbey in the district Baden received a bomb threat. The threatening call came shorty before 5 pm. The police confirmed that the threat had an Islamist motive. According to media reports, the aggressor said on the phone: "Convert to Islam, or I will bomb you." Special police forces promptly searched the public areas of the monastery, but no suspicious items were found on the premises.
On 7 December, six climate activists defaced St Mark's Basilica of Venice by spraying Nesquik with fire extinguishers on the right side facade and pouring mud on the columns. They then unfurled a banner and a placard with the photos of twelve climate activists who were detained for three days after a roadblock in Fiumicino.
The Russian military-civilian administration in the occupied Zaporizhzhia oblast of Ukraine issued an order banning the activities of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), as well as the Knights of Columbus and Caritas organizations engaged in social service in the occupied territory. All movable and immovable property and land plots of the UGCC will also be seized. The Information Department of the UGCC reports they just become aware of this on December 7, although the document dates December 26, 2022.
Two British tourists were caught in the act of vandalising the Jerez nativity scene in Spain. The Christ Child was the most damaged figure and had to be replaced by another. The two men were also mocking Christian prayer after they were caught. The authorities have opened an investigation against the two British tourists for vandalism.
At the beginning of December, for example, the pilgrimage church of St Mary in Kupfergasse in Cologne was the victim of an attack in which the perpetrators left eclectic messages on the walls of the chapel of grace, ranging from utter nonsense to "666" and "Allah Akbar" (sic): pure provocation that has nothing to do with either genuine Satanism or Islamism.
On Sunday, December 3, a Mass held by Archbishop Roberto Repole was disrupted by climate activists. The protestors from the climate activist group "Extinction Rebellion" disrupted the church service in Turin Cathedral. During the Mass, the activists stood up one at a time, walked to the front, positioned themselves in front of the altar and started to read aloud passages from Pope Francis' "Laudato Si" and "Laudate Deum," both of which discuss climate change. The Archbishop of Turin said: "I am sorry that they decided to take the floor... without first wanting to talk to me and ask if they could intervene... I would have replied that at Mass we often pray for peace... but the Eucharistic celebration is not a suitable time to host public interventions." The Archbishop said that he initially let them speak before asking them to end so they could continue the celebration of the Mass.
Between the morning of December 1 and the morning of December 2, unknown perpetrators broke into a Protestant church in Annweiler. The individuals trashed a room inside the church, but did not steal anything. The damage is estimated to cost about 500 euros. Police are still investigating the incident.
On November 27, a woman was arrested in Madrid for praying the rosary on the streets. This comes after the Government Delegation banned the public prayer of the rosary that has been taking place in front of the headquarters of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) during the ongoing anti-government protests.
On November 30 around 10 AM it was discovered that the Aucamville town church in Toulouse was vandalized. A cross was severely damaged, a vase was broken and the pieces were left on the ground. Two vandals were identified and it was discovered they were intoxicated while performing the acts of vandalism.
Back in 2018, the Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers lodged an application with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) with the help of the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), following the theft and host desecration by the “artist” Abel Azcona. Now, the ECHR has declared the application inadmissible.
A judgment by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) from November 28 ruled that a public administration's imposition of strict neutrality to establish a 'neutral administrative environment' by forbidding the use of visible religious symbols can be justified. The Court states that Member States have discretion in designing neutrality policies but must pursue these objectives consistently and reasonably. This concept of 'strict neutrality', which is seen as opposed to visible religious symbols, raises religious freedom concerns.
On November 27, unknown perpetrators vandalized the Basilica of St. John the Baptist in Saarbrücken. A statue of Infant Jesus has been beheaded and the statute of Mary, holding the infant, was also damaged. Later on, a 44-year-old woman was identified as the perpetrator.
On November 26, a 29-year-old man from Syria disrupted the Sunday Mass in Vienna's St. Stephan Cathedral. According to media reports, he repeatedly disturbed the liturgy, jumped over the fence around the main alter and screamed loudly.
On November 23, Keplerkirche St. Johann in Vienna was vandalized. Witnesses had seen a man who had allegedly tore a statue of the Madonna from an anchorage in the church and stole a wooden cross. Based on the witness statements and video surveillance footage, the police were able to identify the perpetrator. The 29-year-old Syrian man was found near the church and arrested. He will be charged with aggravated damage to property and theft. The stolen cross was returned to the church. The same perpetrator attacked the Viennese St. Stephan cathedral a few days later (see case from November 26, 2023).
On 23 November 2023, an Algerian man armed with a knife attacked a group of children outside Gaelscoil Choláiste Mhuire, a private Catholic primary school. As a result of the attack three young children and a care assistant who tried to protect the kids were stabbed. A five-year-old girl was critically injured and remains hospitalised in critical condition. The assistant, who received multiple stabs, is also in a serious condition.
A church in Klostergasse in Ichtershausen, Germany, was forcibly broken into and damaged. Several doors were broken open, rooms were searched and approximately 10,000 euros worth of property damage was caused. Multiple instruments were stolen as well. The crime occurred between November 17 at 3 PM and November 20 at 10:20 AM. The police are still investigating the incident.
The Observatory for Religious Freedom and Freedom of Conscience (OLRC) in Spain collects, verifies and publishes attacks on religious freedom in the country. The 2023 report shows that attacks have increased in 2022 compared to 2021 by 6.67%, from a total of 195 to 208 cases. Their Annual Report shows that attacks on places of worship have increased by 40% and that 3 out of every 4 attacks have been against Catholics. The OLRC also documented 4 specific cases of violence against believers, all of them being against Catholics.
The door to Our Lady and St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Ballymoney was set on fire on the night of November 19. Police were notified shortly after 9:45 pm that the side door of the church was on fire. Officers attended to the fire and were able to extinguish it before significant damage was caused. The police are investigating the incident as a deliberate arson attack.
The Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur in Rouen was broken into on November 15. The parish priest, Father Geoffroy de la Tousche, said that a statue was broken, sacred vases were stolen, and the altar was severely damaged. This is not the first case of vandalism in Rouen, as gargoyles had been damaged last year. The priest said that the damage will cost tens of thousands of euros. The police are investigating but the perpetrator has not been found.
The lower house of the Irish Parliament has passed a bill in support of so-called 'buffer zones' around abortion clinics, which will now move to the upper house (Seanad) for consideration. The proposed Health (Termination of Pregnancy Services) / Safe Access Zones Bill criminalizes individuals attempting to offer advice or influence pregnant women within 100 meters of an abortion clinic. Repeat offenders could face a fine of €2,500 or up to six months in prison. Churches loced within these zones fear restrictions on church grounds under the propsed bill.
Unknown perpetrators damaged an altar crucifix and stole a Jesus figure from the Imperial Cathedral in Königslutter on November 14. The individuals entered the cathedral via the main entrance, which was open, and went to the altar area. They removed the crucifix, moved it to a less visible area in the church, and severely damaged it. They also stole a figure of Jesus that was attached to it. The police are investigating the situation, and the perpetrators have not been caught.
The Finnish appeal court has unanimously upheld the 2022 acquittal and dismissed all charges against Finnish MP Päivi Räsänen and Bishop Juhana Pohjola who had been on trial for having publicly expressed their Christian beliefs. The ruling is considered to be a victory for freedom of religion and expression.
A man devastated the church of Santa Maria Assunta in Scandiano, causing thousands of euros worth of damage. He vandalized the walls, furniture, and statues, including breaking off the head of a statue of Mary. The individual destroyed sacred objects and broke open the tabernacle to throw the host on the ground. The police were able to identify the perpetrator. The 53-year-old from Modena was consequently reported for aggravated damage.
St. Laurentius Church in Leinach was defaced for the second time over the weekend of November 11. The side of the church was smeared with silver paint, the slogan written on the wall is illegible. The material damage is estimated to cost 500 euros. About a year ago, unknown perpetrators defaced the steps of the church with black paint. The individuals responsible for either of these crimes have not been caught.
At the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Piazza Pilozzi in Valmontone, a man entered with a gas cylinder and lighter, threatening to explode the church. The 35-year-old man from Romania insulted and threatened the parish priest, attempting to extort money from him. The police arrived and were able to detain the man. He was taken to a prison in Valletri.
An individual deliberately started a fire in a confessional at the parish of San Jaime in Oropesa del Mar. The fire was able to be put out and did not injure anyone. The Local Police of Oropesa del Mar were able to identify the man who started the fire and arrest him.
On November 8, a picture was posted on social media of an offensive writing in graffiti on the outside wall of St. Lukas Church in Munich. The writing read: "F*ck your God". Pastor Steve Kennedy Henkel said, "as a church in the city, we are used to vandalism; recently a stone was thrown through the church window after a funeral service." The pastor has replaced the first word of the graffiti, so that it now reads: "I love you! Your God." Pastor Henkel explained: "What would be more natural for us as Christians to respond to hatred with love?" It has not been reported if any police investigation has been launched following this incident.
An ethical review by medical law experts has been conducted in Jersey to assess the implications that the approval of euthanasia, "Assisted Dying" (AD), would have on the island. While noting the necessity of several limitations to euthanasia based on ethical issues, the experts stated that conscientious objection should not be granted to everyone, excluding people not directly involved in the death, such as receptionists or drivers.
Former employee of Sainsbury's Jacqueline Rendell is suing the supermarket chain for "unfair dismissal" alleging she was fired for refusing to work on Sunday mornings so she could attend Sunday services at church. She claims the supermarket chain fired her because she refused demands to work every Sunday morning.