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.