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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
On 17 November a man tried to set fire to the wooden fence of an Orthodox church on Kavkazskiy Bul'var in Moscow. He was arrested nearby by law enforcement officials. He claims that he went for a walk with a can of petrol, then emptied it on the fence for no reason and set it on fire. Pending his trial for "vandalism", he is under house arrest and released under judicial supervision.
The former football player Vasilios Tsiartas was sentenced this November to 10 months in prison for a comment made on Facebook in 2017 where he stated that “God created Adam and Eve” in response to a bill for the redefinition of gender identity. On his Twitter account, he has stated that he will appeal the sentence.
Unknown persons entered the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in Monterone, on the 16th of November. They enacted numerous acts of vandalism, destroying and stealing sacred furnishings and iconography. In particular, the perpetrators detached and carried away an ancient wooden crucifix later found by police inside a heavily damaged garbage can. According to the sources, the form of desecration and damage indicates that it might have been a satanic motivated attack.
On the 13th November, the door of the Sankt Laurentius church in Langenhorn was set on fire by unknown perpetrators. A video of the crime was uploaded on the internet but it has been removed again. A vandal threw a Molotov Cocktail at the church and posted a video of the flames. The police opened an investigation with the video.
Police officers in Cerignola, Foggiano, arrested a 32-year-old immigrant man responsible for damaging the church and setting fire to the door. He also insulted the religious denomination. As he was confronted, he resisted and injured a public official. During a patrol, police officers noticed the flames in front of the main door of the church of San Domenico and the perpetrator running away with a canister probably containing flammable liquid.
CNE News reports that YouTube has banned a Norwegian prayer channel called "Kanal 10 'We pray for you'" for allegedly violating the social media guidelines under the category of "online spam, deceptive practices and fraud." Øyvind Rygg, the general manager of Kanal 10, says there are also no economic interests in the program. "We were told last week Monday that if we continued to broadcast the prayer program, YouTube would block us. That means that they are ending our entire channel on YouTube", told Rygg to Dagen.
On the 7th of November, it was reported that the cross was stolen a few months before from Montesano Cathedral. The cross was taken from the hands of the statue of St. Rita. Now it has been recovered and the thief has been detained.
The Investigative Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia "Orskoye" of the Orenburg region completed the investigation of a criminal case on charges of a 31-year-old citizen of the Republic of Tajikistan of stealing money and setting fire to a building of the temple complex of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul of the Orsk diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church in the city of Novotroitsk.
The Church of St. George in Bor was ransacked, and thieves took the money that the faithful left in boxes under the benches. They also broke several icons in the church. Furthermore, they broke into the church's souvenir shop and took all the money they found there. The police are looking for the perpetrators.
An employee of the parish had unlocked the 700-year-old house of worship on Wednesday morning (2.11.2022), 8 o'clock. When he returned to the church around 11 a.m., he noticed that several stacks of brochures on a table in the church were on fire. "It was only by chance and the quick and courageous intervention of a church employee that the church in Helmstedt did not go up in flames". The regionalHeute.de news source reported the incident.
On Sunday, October 30, the rector of the Church of St. Andrew the First-Called on Vuoksa (Vasilevo village, Priozersky district of Leningrad region) contacted the police. He reported that unknown perpetrators tried to set fire to the structure of a wooden church. The fire burned part of the outer wall of the church. The vandals also broke down the gate to the bridge leading to the temple. The rector of the temple said that he had not had conflicts with anyone.
On the morning of October 30, the police were contacted by of the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the village of Churachiki, who discovered the loss of silver jewelry from a casket in a church shop and an opened donation box. The attacker entered the temple by breaking a window.
Between the 22. and 28. of October, the windows of the Protestant church in Urspringen were damaged by unknown perpetrators. An employee of the church filed a complaint for damage to property. She had found four small holes in the windows of the church. According to the police, the affected panes are at a height of three metres. The damage amounts to about 500 euros.
In the morning of October 27. a man vandalised the church of San Carlo in Lugano. First, holding a vase of flowers, he hit the protective glass of the statue of the Virgin above the altar. Then he used a candleholder to destroy other statues and objects in the church, including decapitating a plaster statue of Padre Pio. The sacristan's wife, assisted by another person, locked the intruder in the church and called the police. The sacristan, who arrived at the church shortly after, tried to stop the intruder, who then attempted to assault him.
On October 27 a 61-year-old man set seven buildings on fire, included the local church, in Dyula, a Ukrainian village near the border with Romania with about 1,500 inhabitants. He was later arrested and faces up to 10 years in prison.
In Budyonnovsk, Stavropol Territory, the Military Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation intends to open a criminal case against two members of the Evangelical Church of the Holy Trinity for refusing to go to the war for religious reasons. If convicted, they could face prison sentences of up to three years. The two Christians, Sergey Tarasov and Maxim Drozdov were called under the mobilization decree on 24 September. As they objected for religious reasons, the commander refused their appeal.
On the night of the 25. Oktober, unknown burglars entered the Evangelical Lutheran Emmaus Church in Leipzig by smashing a window. They damaged parts of the furnishings and the organ room, causing considerable damage mostly to the sanctuary. Among other items, the altar cross was stolen, leaving toilet paper instead. The perpetrators also set fire to the church. The amount of damage could not yet be quantified.
In the period from October 25 to October 26, unknown persons broke into the parish office in Neuendorf in the district of Harz by forcibly opening the office door. They subsequently stole a safe containing cash, several chalices and monstrances, with a total value of about 11,000 euros were stolen from the storehouse of the parish office.
On October 25, unknown vandals broke the crucifix at the entrance to the village of Pryvitiv in the Zhytomyr region and damaged the crucifix, according to the press service of the Zhytomyr diocese. The rector of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (UOC-MP), Fr. Alexander Litvinyuk, said that the cross had been installed by the care and guardianship of the community of this temple, located inside the village.
After an emergency call on Sunday night (23. October), multiple police officers from the Leipzig police department went out on a large-scale operation including explosives experts and sniffer dogs. Someone had made a threat of a bombing a church. A 36-year-old man has been identified and arrested as the main suspect.
On the 22. October, vandals entered a church in Nidda (Germany) and threw down hymn books, damaged candles and spilt candle wax on the altar and on a Bible. The damage of the church took place during the opening hours in the afternoon and the damage amounts to about 150 Euros. The police in Büdingen are asking for information from witnesses.
It was reported on the 20. October that the walls of the Sint-Elisabeth Church in Kortrijk were vandalized with crossed-out crosses and the word "F*CK" written with black spray paint. This is not the first time the church has faced vandalism. The pastor of the church, Guido Cooman, said that he is going to file a complaint with the police.
Airsoft bullets damaged the stained glass windows of a church in France, as Actu France reported on the 19. October. The windows of the church Saint-Ténénan, in Guerlesquin, show notably significant damages following airsoft shootings.
The Russian Embassy in Portugal denounced that Fr Sergiy Borsky, of the All Saints Parish of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church in Lisbon, "has received several threats to his life and physical integrity" and had been criminally attacked.
On October 18, 2022, local Polish media reported the destruction of a cross in the Rudki forest. An unknown perpetrator cut down a century-old wooden cross located in a forest complex on the edge of Lublin and Krężnica Jareja.
On the 17. October, the police in Lubasz were notified that an unknown vandal had severely damaged the statue of John Paul II, which was estimated at a loss of PLN 1,500. The 20-year-old perpetrator has been caught by the police and now faces up to 5 years imprisonment for the crime he committed. However, the final punishment will be decided by the court.
The Christian Institute has reported that parents of children at Hatcham College were denied access to see the Sex-Education lesson slides used by an external NGO. The parents requested access to the slides by the School of Sexuality Education (SoSE), but the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) denied their request, stating it would compromise the sex education provider’s “intellectual property”. This, nevertheless, undermines parental rights, as the parents are not able to raise concern over material being taught to their children that might go against their beliefs.
Police are investigating attempted arson in Ihringen am Kaiserstuhl. Unknown persons have attempted to set fire at the parish church "Assumption of the Virgin Mary" in Wasenweiler in several places.
A buffer zone was implemented outside the BPAS clinic in Bournemouth in a bid to deter people from praying or standing with pro-life signs outside the clinic. Anyone that fails to accept the decision could incur a fixed penalty notice of £100 or face court action. Buffer zones have been widely discussed, due to their limitation of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.
The European Court of Human Rights has recently concluded that Eloïse Bouton, a "Femen" member who performed a topless act simulating an abortion of Christ by the Virgin Mary in front of the altar and tabernacle of La Madeleine Church in Paris in 2013, has to be compensated. She had been sentenced by the French court to a one-month suspended prison and 2,000 euro fine for "sexual exhibition". She had also desecrated the altar of the church with urination and anti-Christian slogans and symbolism. With this ruling, a dangerous record of precedents is being created that will only encourage more blasphemous attacks on Christians.
In a Press Release on the 13. October, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) stated: “The internal rule of an undertaking prohibiting the visible wearing of religious, philosophical or spiritual signs does not constitute direct discrimination if it is applied to all workers in a general and undifferentiated way.” This means, now companies can prohibit workers to use religious symbols at work, including cross necklaces or headscarves. This will not be considered discrimination against religious groups, as long as it applies to all religions.
Two Russian Orthodox hieromonks (monks who are also priests in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholicism) had criminal cases opened against them for opposing the Russian invasion of Ukraine on religious grounds. Forum 18 is following the cases and reports that Fr Nikandr Pinchuk's first full trial hearing in Sverdlovsk Oblast is due on 17 October, while Fr Ioann Kurmoyarov, who is in pre-trial detention since early June, has his trial on 14 November in St Petersburg.
The mayor of the municipality of Ponte Caldelas, Andrés Díaz, has denounced through his social networks several acts of vandalism committed in a Chapel of the town. In the photos he posted it can be noticed that the saints of the church have been painted black as well as signatures that the vandals left all over the building.
In May 2019, Dr. Richard Scott faced an investigation by the NHS England (National Health Service) after several complaints were made about him offering prayer to patients, as he discussed this practice during a BBC Radio 4 interview. Dr. Scott faced an investigation to see if he was fit for practice, but the case has now been settled between Dr. Scott and the NHS, as reported on the news at the beginning of October. He has agreed to attend a course about professional boundaries and at the same time, with no admittance of wrongdoing.
Monsignor Massimo D'Angelo of the diocese of Chieti, denounced on his Facebook account that a sacrilegious theft had taken place at the chapel of San Rocco in Sambuceto. "This night they stole from the parish by uprooting the security door and removing from the wall the safe with the gold votive gifts of St. Roch and some Chalices" he wrote.
On October 9, 2022, a thirty-nine-year-old man disrupted the celebration of evening Mass at St. Francis Church in Zabrze. During the Eucharist in progress there, two men entered the church, with one of them immediately heading toward the altar. Then, in front of the priest celebrating Mass and the gathered faithful, he set off a firecracker. Panic broke out. As a result of the situation, the faithful began to leave the church building in panic. It was determined that no one was hurt as a result of the incident.
Between the 7. and 8. October, unknnown perpetrators threw apples at the hexagonal baroque windows of a collegiate church in Klagenfurt. The police has to quantify the amount of the damage to property.
The UK's already controversial Public Order Bill has received an amendment proposal that would criminalize supporting women seeking an abortion within a 150-meter "buffer zone" from an abortion clinic. Apart from the fact that this would open the way for authorities to repress Christian street preachers, this amendment means that prayer or any kind of help inside the "buffer zones" could lead to an up to two-year jail sentence. Laws like this already exist in Northern Ireland since March, and will also be a reality in Scotland in the near future.
In less than twelve hours the town of A Coruña suffered two robberies in the local cemetery, affecting practically all the inhabitants. María Cambón, a neighbour who visits the cemetery every day, raised the alarm on the 10th of October, after discovering that someone had taken a number of bronze and copper virgins from the niches. Most of them were behind the glass doors of each tomb, in small chapels. In the afternoon of the same day, a similar robbery happened again. An image of the Virgen del Carmen was found lying on the floor of the cemetery, which the thieves probably left behind. In total, around 40 statues have been stolen.
The Observatory for Religious Freedom and Freedom of Conscience (Observatorio para la Libertad Religiosa y de Conciencia) has reported on its social media that it has denounced the hacking of which they were victims last October 6 during the presentation of the "Report of attacks on religious freedom in Spain 2021".
After a fire on September 25, where arson has not been ruled out, media sources reported on October 6 that Belarusian authorities are terminating the Red Church's use agreement with the Roman Catholic parish community of St. Simon and St. Helen. Notice of this has already been received by the church authorities and the parish has been ordered to take all belongings from the temple within a few days.
It was reported on the 6th of October that Minsk authorities closed a religious school at the Catholic Christian Social Center of the city. Police were sent to the centre to check "whether there were any classes there", Radio Svaboda reports. According to Fr. Yuri Sanko, Minsk authorities ordered the social and educational parts to be closed on August the 30th.
A new report on "Hate Crimes Based on Religion, Belief or Nonbelief in Turkey" by the Freedom of Belief Initiative of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee describes the increasing problem of hate incidents against religious minorities in the country. These attacks target Christians, Jews, Alevis (a branch of Shīʿa Islam with some pre-Islamic influences, which is practiced mainly in Turkey), and atheists. The nature of the hate attacks varies between damage to property, threats, violent attacks against individuals, damage to places of worship and cemeteries, harassment, and insults. Some places belonging to religious communities have been repeatedly targeted.
A TikTok video shows how a large group of young people vandalize the Cathedral of Lugo – declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2015 – by climbing up and down its facade in a kind of competition. Earlier this year, in March there was another incident of vandalism at the cathedral, as three young men urinated on its facade. The damage done was estimated around 900 Euro by the police.
A new report was submitted to the Scottish Government on the 4th of October that could criminalize efforts by parents to mentor their children according to their beliefs, with the possibility of losing parental custody. Prayers and private conversations could also be criminalized. The report considers "conversion practices" as "any treatment, practice or effort that aims to change, suppress, and/or eliminate a person's sexual orientation, expression of sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression.".
In the city of Vöhringen, unknown perpetrators threw several eggs at the façade wall of the front side and the main entrance of the church in the Roselfelder Straße between 31 October and 3 November. After it was cleaned, not all residues could be removed, according to the police report, which estimates the damage caused at several hundred euros.
During the week of the 3rd of October, the Saint-Joseph chapel in Saint-Pol-de-Léon was vandalised by unknown perpetrators. The door was smashed with an axe and the cupboards were searched. The perpetrators also broke windows, dishes and kitchenware. Some electronic devices were stolen and the library was ransacked. On top of that, inside the tabernacle, the vandals smashed crucifixes and other sacred symbols. A case has been filed with the police.
On Sunday 2nd October, a 22-year-old man entered the church in Würzburg and lit a zigarrette inside the church. When a 59-year-old woman approached him and reprimanded him for his behaviour, he suddenly struck her and then spat on her. The young man then ran away and is being searched by the police for physical aggression and hurting religious sentiments.
On the Sunday night of October the 2nd, an unidentified person threw bleach from a balcony at the image of the Virgin of the Rosary when the statue was in procession near the Cathedral. The Local Police were immediately informed and are trying to identify the perpetrator of this hate crime.
A statue of the Virgin Mary was thrown into the garden of the parish of San Miguel Arcángel in Las Rozas, Madrid, on the night of the 1st to the 2nd of October. The parish priest, José Antonio Buceta Toro, denounced the act on Sunday morning and informed the police.
On the 2nd of October, a student was arrested in Montpellier after threatening to set fire to the church of Saint-François d'Assise. She said that she could not stand the noise of the church bells. The woman is said to have stormed into the church at the time of service (around 11.30 am) and threatened to set fire to the church, referencing what happened at Notre Dame in Paris. Given the aggressive behaviour towards the parish volunteers, she has been banned from entering the church.
At the end of September, two thieves entered the Church of All Saints of St. Petersburg in Kingisepp, Leningrad oblast, through the bell tower and stole two pectoral crosses placed on the altar. They were arrested. The youngest was also connected with a theft from a florist. A third protagonist who was on the lookout is also wanted.
A 48-year-old woman and her daughter-in-law who were arrested after stealing sacred gold objects from a church store on the night of May 10-11 in Orenburg were tried and sentenced to ten months of "colony life", which is the Russian equivalent of semi-liberty. The loot was returned.
During the night of September 30 to October 1, a recently refurbished statue of the Virgin Mary was broken and placed on a pole a little further away, in La Chapelle Thouarault, a township located west of Rennes, near the Hermitage-Mordelles station. The act aroused the indignation of the town hall and local residents.
In the district of Haselbach in Braunau, a sacristan was brutally beaten up during his evening prayers on the 29. September. The perpetrator has been identified as a 26-year-old homeless man from Romania. The perpetrator had asked the 87-year-old sacristan for money, who had given him some help before. This time, the sacristan refused and the young man decided to attack him. The victim was found by witnesses, who saw him severely injured and alerted the police.
Between September 25 and 28, unknown perpetrators forced open an entrance door of the Dreifaltigkeitskirche (Holy Trinity Church) and thus entered the church building. Inside, cupboards and donation boxes were broken open and an unknown amount of money was stolen from them. The damage to property cannot yet be quantified, reports the local police.
On September 27, a number of brass chalices and two big screens were stolen from the basilica of the Santissima Annunziata di Firenze in Montecosaro. The chalices are sacred objects that are used to celebrate Mass.
It was reported on the 27. September that the Municipal Committee of the Aragonese Party (PAR) criticised the vandalism caused to the exterior of the church of La Magdalena in Zaragoza. The exterior wall of the church is covered in graffiti that includes offensive expressions or insults against the clergy.
Belarusian Police banned New Life Church from meeting for dominical worship in the parking lot of the church building from which they had been forcibly evicted. On 25 September officials ordered the Belarussian Police to ban the Sunday meeting and detain anyone who did not leave, while pastors Vyacheslav Goncharenko and Antoni Bokun were detained and fined for having organized the 18 September 2022 service.
The position of an EU Envoy of Religious Freedom is still vacant. The position was left vacant for 2 years, until it was briefly held by Christos Stylianides from May to September 2021. He left the role, as he was offered a different position only 5 months later. In 2022, it was communicated that Mario Mauro would be confirmed as a new Envoy, but there has not been any further confirmation. On the 23. September 2022, Marco Gombacci wrote an Open Letter to Ursula von der Leyen questioning why the EU is not making the safeguarding of Religious Freedom a priority, given its "indispensable value for defining democracies and states under the rule of law".