In the town of Barbera del Valles, thieves "kidnapped" the figure of the baby Jesus from the open-air nativity scene on the 28. December at night. They then posted a video on social media with covered faces and distorted voices demanding a ransom of 10,000 euros for the precious figure. According to Spanish media, the city council of the town expressed the hope that it could be a sort of prank. But this is not the first theft of the small figure from the Nativity scene in the church square.
In the city of Corticelle, vandals targeted the building adjacent to the Pieve church on the 28th of January. The building is a Catholic-owned centre that belongs to the Amici della Pieve association. The news reported that unknown perpetrators caused major damage by breaking the windows and doors and committing burglary. The police are said to investigate under surveillance cameras since vandals have caused two events within two weeks.
On December 28, the surveillance camera showed how unknown suspects stole the statue of the Baby Jesus from the nativity scene. The reports have also mentioned that several young people were hiding the statue of Baby Jesus under their clothes and walking around the city with it. The figure was later found at a restaurant terrace and other acts of vandalism have been investigated previously by the police.
Unidentified person(s) have caused several damages inside the Catholic Provost Church of St Trinitatis in Leipzig. On the 27. December in the afternoon, he rioted in the church, threw various books around and damaged the nativity figures. The damage was estimated at a three-digit amount by the police.
In the Jesuit Church of St. Michael in Munich, the nativity scene has been ruined and an unknown suspect has stolen the statue of the infant baby Jesus. It was reported that the statue about 25 centimetres tall, was stolen on the second day of Christmas. Father Martin Stark has therefore left a note on the empty crib saying "Here lay our baby Jesus, who is part of our historical nativity scene. Unfortunately it got lost on the 2nd day of Christmas. I ask the one, who probably took it, imploringly to return the figure to us!".
On the 25. December, while 30 people were celebrating mass in a small wooden church in Rautjärvi, a fire broke out and the faithful had to be quickly evacuated. The historic Evangelical church was completely destroyed by the fire that started at 8.30 am. The criminal commissioner, Mika Salminen said in a press conference that the side doors of the church had been attacked with ropes. There is no doubt for the police, that this was a willful attack.
While celebrating mass and Christmas Eve in the village of Alsace, burglars entered the Priests' home and stole money. It was said the burglars might have known the time the masses were since it was posted online. Therefore, the theft was already planned beforehand. The amount of the stolen money is unclear, but it was from donations and collections from the church. The 59-year-old has said it was "traumatic" for him and that the investigation is still ongoing.
On the 25th of December, the police reported that unknown perpetrators broke into the Christuskirche and burgled the interior. Laptops and bread rolls packages were stolen. The vandals entered the church through a window and by breaking the connected doors.
In Valperga, vandals broke a glass pane of the Belmonte sanctuary, as reported on the 22nd of December. Mayor Sandretto commented that a volunteer who takes care of the place has repaired the damage, as he was the one that noticed it. The attack must have been on the days before.
ADF UK reported that a charity volunteer has been arrested and charged with four counts after telling the police that she “might” be praying silently in her mind, after being questioned by them over why she was standing inside an abortion facility’s censorship zone. The arrest and charges took place as authorities consider criminalising prayer near abortion facilities nationwide in the new Public Order Bill.
In December 2022, the Church of Norway was asked by the local branch of the Human-Ethical Association (HEF) to remove the crosses on chapels and cemeteries as it finds them to be "threatening". The HEF advocates for more "neutrality" in public space.
Between the 18th and 18th of December, unknown vandals tagged the walls of the church of San Giorgio in Golino, Canton of Ticino, with satanic and anarchist symbology in black paint. A complaint has already been made by the parish. The damage was noticed by the sacristan the next morning.
On 19 December several tags with insults, anarchist and nazi symbols appeared on several doors of Saint Roch's church in the centre of Paris. "A few days before Christmas, scandalous inscriptions were left on the church of Saint-Roch", wrote the mayor of Paris, Ariel Weil. He commented that a complaint had been lodged at the police and that the cleaning of the building had started.
Between the 18th and 19th of December, an unknown perpetrator destroyed several windows of the St. John of Rochester Catholic church in Egham Hythe. The perpetrator smashed the windows by throwing flower pots through them. The shattered glass spread over the floor and the incident was discovered by a church volunteer, Anne-do Bauchot. She and other church members said they were "heartbroken" by seeing this attack. Also, because of this, the church was not able to hold their traditional Christmas Eve service.
A video was uploaded on Youtube on the 17. December of a man that destroys a Nativity Scene with a hammer in the Spanish city of Calahorra. He has already been arrested by the police.
Amid the new tensions of December 2022 between Serbians and Albanians in Kosovo, it was reported on Serbian news that ethnic Albanians looted several Serbian houses and one church: "Residents of the village of Bogoševac near Prizren said that Albanians had looted several Serbian houses. The local population lost everything - from equipment to personal belongings. The church of St. Nicholas, built in the 16th century, was also looted. In 2022, the highest number of attacks on the Serbian population of Kosovo and Metohija was recorded".
A German court in Minden has declared that the "decision to ban worship services was illegal" as "the measure was 'disproportional', not founded in the law for infection prevention and violated the freedom of religion severely." The case referred to the total ban on public worship passed by the municipal council of Lage, a small town in the state of Lower Saxony, during Easter 2021.
Tremithousa Village is located in Cyprus, where there has been a grand theft at the Chapel of the Prophet Elias. It was reported on the 16th of December that the police have started the investigation. Unknown perpetrators have broken into the chapel and have stolen four altarpieces that are worth 1,000 euros.
After some months of debate, the Congress of Deputies (the national parliament lower house in Madrid) recently passed the new abortion law. This law breaches human rights for parents and medical staff alike, as it allows minor girls 16 and 17 years old to undergo an abortion without parental consent. Also, the freedom of conscience for medical staff is under pressure, as doctors who opt-out from this procedure for conscience reasons will be placed on a list of "conscientious objectors" and removed from the medical committees that decide over a woman's claims of malformation or illness of the foetus that want to abort beyond the limit of the first 14 weeks.
According to the police, on 14. December, unknown perpetrators have probably thrown fireworks at the rooftop of the Luther Church of Chemnitz. This has caused damage to the entrance, the estimated amount is around 7500 euros
The statues of Joseph and Mary were found beheaded at the Nativity scene in Schaffen (Diest), on 14 December. It happened in broad daylight, in the afternoon. According to local residents, it is not the first time vandals have struck at the nativity scene.
The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Bulgaria for a 2008 governmental campaign to warn children and families away from Protestant churches. This came after in 2021, Pastor Tonchev and Pastor Kiryakov in Burgas, challenged the government's campaign that labelled Protestant Christians as "sects"and told children at schools that they should not attend such churches.
The nativity scene at the heart of the Christmas market in Illkirch-Graffenstaden, a town near Strasbourg, was destroyed by arson, reports the news site "20 Minutes". The incident was reported on the 13th of December. The police is searching for the perpetrator.
The vicinity of the Parish Church of São Francisco, in the parish of Real, in Braga, has been the target of vandalism and graffiti. Also a signboard in São Bento da Porta Aberta was found destroyed on 12 December.
The Ngo Forum 18 reports that on 12. December, "armed Russian soldiers broke into the home of Serhiy Karpenko, Pastor of the Vefil (Bethel) Protestant Church in Berdyansk." The Russian forces took him away in an unknown direction. The Berdyansk News Online also reported this on its Telegram channel the same day. According to the news channel, local residents said "soldiers had also searched the Church and allegedly found Ukrainian symbols."
Unknown perpetrators stole the cross from the church of St. Michael in Blumenfeld, as reported on 11. December. It seems that this happened soon after the Advent singing, leaving the dean and the mayor stunned with the theft. The cross, which is more than 110 years old, is estimated to be worth up to 12,000 euros. The police have started an investigation and are looking for witnesses and information.
An armed robbery took place on 11. December night in an evangelical church in Orta di Atella, in the province of Caserta. The six robbers, according to the witnesses, entered the church during the Sunday service with covered faces and, at least two of them, armed with pistols, robbing some of the worshippers present. The whole incident lasted only a few minutes, after which the bandits fled in a car, with the Carabinieri only appearing at the scene later.
The Door of St. Peter's Church in Versmold has been tagged with right-wing extremist slogans by unknown perpetrators. The graffiti shows inciting symbols and slogans, as it was reported on the 11. December. The police of Bielefeld are investigating and trying to identify the perpetrators.
The bells of the Church of Santa Marta, in the parish of Benfica do Ribatejo, were stolen and the facilities of the scouts were robbed. The alert for the theft was given this Saturday morning, December 10, but the robbery would have occurred on Thursday or Friday. The bells were stolen from the Church Tower and the robbers caused even more damage. They entered the Scouts' premises and destroyed various Scout materials and even stole several tents.
On 10. December, rooms, doors, and objects at the Notre Dame des Armées Church in Calais were burned during an arson attack. One of the parish members commented that they perceived a"strong burning smell" when they entered the building on that day. Unknown perpetrators had burned the door leading to the sacristy, the room where the priest prepares the celebrations and the floor tile. The police have opened an investigation, they are treating the case as an intensional fire caused by the perpetrator. Fortunately, no injuries were reported and the fire did not affect "valuable objects".
Between December 9 and the 13th, the buildings of the St. Nikolaus church and an elementary school were smeared with graffiti and anti-Christian slogans in Konz. One writing said, "God is dead, we killed him", while other symbols were tagged such as pentagrams and inverted crosses. The police have proof from the CCTV cameras of two unidentified perpetrators who entered the elementary school grounds and graffitied the walls. However, the persons are yet to be identified.
A tag with the words "Gora ET(A)" appeared at the door of San Marcos' parish in Sevilla on 6 December. The meaning of the painted slogan in Basque language is "long live ETA", in reference to the Basque separatist organization ETA, classified as a terrorist group by Spain, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and the European Union.
Signs and writing appeared on the façade of the Church of Santa Maria dei Centurelli, in the municipality of Caporciano. The report was made by the Celestinian Movement, which posted photos showing the vandalism. A graffiti on the wall of the church seems to say "thieves", and the information sign outside the church was also defaced with graffiti. The perpetrators remain unknown. The photos were shared on social media by Massimo Alesii and caused indignation. "A serious, very serious fact happened in Centurelli. The appeal is to the local communities... to raise their eyes to the mountains,' wrote Massimo Alesii.
Urine and excrement were found in the two stoups at the entrance to the Church of Sant'Adiutore in Cervinara. This was revealed on Sunday mass, by the parish priest of Cervinara, Don Renato Trapani. All the churches in Cervinara are also open at night so that those who want to gather in prayer freely at all hours can do so without restrictions. The priest showed his sorrow, inviting those in the know to come forward to shed light on this episode.
On the night of 2 to 3 December, unknown persons defaced the walls of the hermitage of Santa María La Antigua of Carabanchel with graffiti, one of the tags containing the Anarchist Ⓐ and an upside-down cross. This 13th-century Mudéjar temple is the oldest building constructed in Madrid.
In the period from Friday, 2 December, to Saturday, 3 December 2022, the altar cloths were burnt in the parish church in Bauler, according to the Bitburg police department. The perpetrator or perpetrators, who are as to date unknown, lit all the sacrificial candles and then also the altar cloths, some of which burnt down, causing material damage, according to the police.
On 1. December Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that he had signed the decision by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC). This instructed the government to submit a bill "on the impossibility of religious organizations affiliated with the centres of influence in the Russian Federation to operate in Ukraine" to the Verkhovna Rada. Although this is a political decision conveyed during a war period, the way it is put into practice could gravely affect religious freedom in the country.
In late November or early December, the Church of 'Santa Maria della Pieve', in Via Borgo Pieve in Castelfranco Veneto, was targeted. Two glass and brass candle holders, various liturgical booklets and votive candles were stolen, while a copper cover and a holy water stoup were partially damaged in an attempt to steal them. Two persons, also linked to other church thefts in the area of Treviso, have been arrested.
"No God, No State, No Patriarchy" was sprayed on the walls of the Breitenfeld Church in Vienna in a vandalic attack that took place in late November. An eyewitness sent the picture to OIDAC Europe.
In November 2022, the Pew Research Center published a new worldwide study on harassment and restrictions against religious groups in 2020. According to the findings, government authorities harassed religious groups in 178 countries in 2020 and social groups or individuals harassed religious groups in 164 countries. Both numbers show a slight decline in comparison to 2019. Christians and Muslims, the largest religions in the world, faced harassment in more countries than any other religious group, same as in previous years. The study documented that Christians were harassed in 155 countries, (2019: 153). Muslims were harassed in 145 countries (2019: 147) and Jews faced harassment in 94 countries (2019: 89).
Derek Timms, a chaplain from Solihull, was told in September at the Marie Curie charity’s Solihull branch, that he must not wear the cross as it might "offend’ and "create barriers" with patients. He was also told that he would face consequences if he did not remove the cross, which was a symbol of his faith but also a memory of his late wife. After receiving legal support, Mr Timms received an "unreserved" apology letter from the Marie Curie charity's regional head office.
Between 22 and 27 November, unknown assailants have stolen a 400-kilogram bell from a church in Gelsenkirchen-Scholven. The bell has a diameter of about 75 centimetres and a height of 1.15 metres, according to the police. The bell itself was not in the tower of St. Joseph's Church at the time of the theft. It was was placed in the interior.
An act of desecration happened in Jerzmanowice on 26 November. Someone turned the cross on the local Calvary upside down and hung an animal skull on it. This is the second time this year that an unknown perpetrator has destroyed, devastated and profaned this Way of the Cross.
In November 2022, policemen confronted a woman praying in a public space, on the edge of a "buffer zone" (a 150m neutral zone surrounding abortion clinics in British law). The case raises polemics about "buffer zones" in general.
Unknown perpetrators traced a big blasphemous writing on a votive crucifix at via Chiesa Rossa in Milan. "Now there is no limit to the vandalistic drift, we are seriously concerned. We ask for a stance from the institutions," said vice-president of the coordination of Milan committees, Fabiola Minoletti, quoted by Milano Today.
On 22. November night, the church of St. Joseph was broken into and desecrated in Cannes. Furniture and drawers were emptied out, donations were stolen, and gasoline was poured all over the walls and floors. The faithful are shocked at the sight of the incident. A mass of reparation is planned for next Friday in the presence of Mgr Nault.
Neighbors of Almería complain that every morning, the area around the church of San Roque, a parish in Almería, is full of garbage and the remains of the previous night's 'botellón' (parties). Recently, the remains of a bonfire appeared on one of the walls of the parish church of San Roque after a barbecue was made at the place, damaging the facade of the church. This form of damage shows a lack of respect for religious groups.
As reported by the newspaper Libertà Sicilia, on November 8, investigators from Sicily received the report of a crime concerning the theft of two antique bells dating back to the early 1900s, stolen from a church. The investigation allowed the tracing of the first perpetrator. As a result of the in-depth investigations, the agents were later able to identify two other individuals, responsible for the laundering of brass scrap, (with a total weight of 55 kilograms) of a bell stolen from another church in the Diocese of Netina.
Fr. Nicolas, the rector of the churches of Santa Maria dell'Olmo and San Rocco in Archi, reported that all the guarded votive gold dedicated to Saint Roch had been stolen. This has been reported on the 20th of November. The police have been notified and are conducting investigations.
A suspect has been caught on CCTV cameras after a wooden chapel in the Prienai district was set on fire on the 20th November. The chapel was in the churchyard of the Skriaudžiai church. Firefighters could not save the wooden building. Fr. Antanas Mickevičius, parish priest of St. Laurynas parish in Skriaudžiai, suspected that the fire was caused by arson: "There was no electricity, fireplace or candles [in the chapel], nothing like that. It could only be arson" quoted Lithuanian National Radio and Television (LRT). After investigating, the firefighters believed that the building may have been set on fire after being doused with a flammable liquid.