Matthew Grech, a 33-year-old charity worker from Malta had a first trial on February 3, after being charged with allegedly promoting 'conversion practices.' The allegations came after Matthew held an online interview with PMnews Malta in which he shared his testimony of becoming a Christian. He talked about his past, saying that he identified as gay in the past and used to be confused regarding his sexuality. Although he never promoted "conversion therapies", the police have pressed criminal charges against him.
On January 31, it was reported that the Russian invaders have fired on a Church belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate in the town of Oleshky. The attack happened while a funeral was taking place, in which collaborate Zhuravko was being buried. The number of casualties after the incident is still under investigation.
On the afternoon of January 28., a perpetrator sprayed a red swastika symbol on the entrance door of the St. Wendelin Church in Neuses. It was reported that the act of vandalism was discovered right after the mass around 6:15 p.m.. The number 187 was also found next to it. An employee who takes care of the church, Klaus Schmitt, has removed the spray paint off from the wall.
On 25 January in the evening, a jihadist terror attack targeting two Catholic churches took place in Algeciras, Spain. Y. K., a 25-year-old Moroccan, has been arrested as the sole perpetrator of the attack, which he executed with a machete. An altar server was killed, and at least four persons are injured, including a priest in serious condition. Several witnesses indicate that he conducted the attack while shouting "Allah is great" and "death to Christians".
On the 25th of January, unknown perpetrators damaged the confessional chairs of a church with cigarette buds. The police have described the damages located in Saalfelden, Austria as willful damage to numerous pews. The investigation is still ongoing to find out the perpetrator(s).
Between the 17. and the 25. of January, three Parisian churches have been attacked with arson by unknown perpetrators. Several fires have caused shock and sadness among parishioners in Paris. The last attack was on the Church of Saint-Laurent in the 10th district on the 24th. According to the findings, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the left side of the door.
During the weekend of the 23. January in the village of Krzrpielow, a Crucifix was desecrated. An unknown perpetrator shot the statue of Jesus on the cross that belongs to the Church of the Holy Trinity. The incident was reported to the police, who are treating the case as desecration, due to the lack of respect for religious feelings. The investigation is still ongoing, and the police are asking for help to find the perpetrator.
On January 23., a witness reported to the police that several young people had destroyed the windows at the Church of St. Paul in Velbert. In a German news website, it said "small stones were used to damage the exterior glazing of the windows of the Bohemian Church." It was also reported that larger stones were found larger surrounding the Church. Fortunately, no persons were harmed. The police are looking for the vandals.
The NGO ADF UK posted a video of two community safety accredited officers in Bournemouth interrogating a veteran who was standing on the street alone, praying in his thoughts. The officers told Adam Smith-Connor that he was praying inside a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) space, for which he was fined. According to the PSPO, certain activities such as acts of "disapproval" towards the abortion facility in the area are prohibited. Adam is at least the second person who was fined for praying silently on the street. He told the officers he was praying for his deceased son, which they considered an "act of disapproval."
There have been multiple cases in France, where churches have been targeted for hate crimes, theft or vandalism. The newest incident happened on January 18. near Paris, where the church of Saint-Martin-des-Champs and its front door and facade were partially burned. An unknown perpetrator has thrown an incendiary device, which was reported to be a molotov cocktail, against the front door at around five o'clock in the morning.
On the 17th and the 22nd of January, the church of Notre-Dame-de-Fatima, the 19th district of Paris, was hit twice by unknown arsonists. The Newspaper "Le Parisien" reported that the door of the church was sprayed with a flammable liquid. Then, the perpetrators used newspapers to start a fire, which fortunately did not spread inside the building.
On the 16. January, 46-year-old Vitaly Alekseenko was given a one-year jail term for refusing the call to the military on conscientious grounds. The Ivano-Frankivsk Appeal Court rejected his appeal against his conviction and has sentenced him to jail starting on the 19th of January. Alekseenko is the fifth known case of court conviction due to conscientious objection, but he is the first one to receive a jail sentence. Alekseenko told Forum 18 that he is "not guilty under the law of God".
An unexpected shooting occurred in North London on January 14. at the St Aloysius Roman Catholic Church. The 22-year-old suspect drove and shot 6 people who were coming out of a memorial service inside the church. The victims were a 48-year-old who has severe life-threatening injuries; a 12, 21, 41, and 54-year-old. A 7-year-old girl was also injured and was in serious condition. The police department detained the suspect for questioning after his car was found parked on Sunday. It was also mentioned that the bullets came from a black Toyota C-HR.
Near the city of Newry, vandalism occurred at a church on January 13. during the night. The perpetrator broke six windows and four bathrooms that were outside the Church of the Sacred Heart. Father Richard Naughton commented that he was "shocked to the core" and vandalism like this had never happened before. The cost for the reparation of the windows was estimated at thousand pounds. The perpetrator is still on the run. The police department has asked for witnesses to contact them as soon as possible.
on the 10th of January, the online news source MK-Online reported a rise in anti-Christian hate speech and vandalism in Bavaria. The most recent incident was red graffiti on the Cathedral of Augsburg that said "F*ck Jesus! He would have wanted it this way". The historical church dates back to Roman times. The reasons behind the perpetrator's actions are still under investigation and the cost of the damaged property lies around a couple of hundred euros. Other cases have been reported in Munich, where the Jesus figure was stolen. In an Augsburg Catholic Church perpetrators threw eggs and left insulting graffiti on the wall against the Word of God.
On the afternoon of January 10., it was reported that the Saint-Louis Roi church of Champagne-au-Mont-d'Or in Lyon was heavily vandalized by a perpetrator. The vandal broke windows and tossed to the ground two crucifixes, candles, books, and cases. District Councillor Tiffany Joncour posted a picture on twitter of a broken crucifix laying on the ground after the attack. The Minister of the Interior Gérald Dramamine later shared on Twitter that the suspect had been arrested.
The chapel of St. Julien in Morbihan has been desecrated and vandalised by unknown perpetrators on the 8th of January. The newspaper Le Télégramme revealed that all crosses were turned upside down, a statue of the Virgin Mary was wrapped with red electric lights, an ex-voto was damaged and a fire extinguisher was poured out on the church. According to the mayor of Morbihan, Patrick Le Roux, such acts had not been seen in the past in this city, "It is for me the expression of absolute evil and stupidity," he added. The destruction was found by a parishioner on Sunday afternoon.
In the city of Halberstadt, a form of pyrotechnics were used to destroy church property at the Lüttgenfeldstraße, amounting to 5,000 euros in damage. Around 3:45 a.m. unknown persons threw crafted explosives over the fence of the church and caused damage to a nativity play which was handcrafted with plastic and wood. The explosion also caused damage to the façade of the church and a window. The police are seeking witnesses to find the perpetrators.
Between the 7th and 9th of January, unknown perpetrators damaged the cupboards of the St. Martinus Church in Ottersheim. The police is running an investigation and looking for the perpetrators. The damaged cupboards amount to about 1000 euros worth.
During the night of 6. January, the statue of Baby Jesus from the Nativity Scene in the St. James Church was vandalized in Brzesko. According to the report, the right hands were cut off, and the statue was destroyed and left at the Jordan park. The pastor of the church commented: "This kind of profanation is not only an expression of stupidity, vandalism or thuggery on the part of some people, but it is first and foremost an attack on our religious feelings."
It was reported that two young people vandalised St. John's Church on the 4th of January. They left traces of foam from the fire extinguisher all over the church and special items. The sacristan came to the church right after the incident happened and reported the crime. A cleaning crew tried to remove the foam, textiles and other valuable Paramentes also had to be cleaned. It seems that the Altar Bible has suffered permanent damage. The police are investigating.
The Romanesque Church of Saints Peter and Paul located in Chianocco, Turin, has been spray painted by unknown vandals. The perpetrators painted inappropriate or obscene drawings and words on the stone wall of the old church. This was reported on the 2nd of January. In the next days, volunteers will come and help clean up the mess that was left behind. The police are investigating.
The police in North Kerry are investigating an act of vandalism against a church in Ballyduff. Three young women entered the St. Peter and St. Paul church and set fire to the altar cloth. The incident happened on the 30th of December, during the opening hours of the church. Detectives are investigating the motive behind the incident. The altar cloth did not go up in flames, so the damage was not extensive.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
At the end of October, a draft bill was approved by the Council of Ministers to ban so-called "conversion practices" against LGBTQ+ people. The bill was carried out by the Minister of Equality Opportunity Secretary, Sarah Schlitz. The adoption of this specific bill will allow the ban to take effect immediately. While the protection of victims from abuse and manipulative practices is extremely important, the bill could threaten religious freedom, as the Minister affirms she wants to ban "ALL forms of conversion therapies". Given that there is not a clear definition of what counts as "conversion practice", the bill could ban simple prayers and private conversations among Christians.