It was announced on the 25th of September that the UK government has scrapped a bill that was being drafted to ban so-called "conversion therapy", which would have endangered Freedom of Speech. "Conversion therapy" bans are controversial because there is no clear definition of what "conversion therapy" is, which can lead to the term being used to criminalize private conversations or even private prayer between consenting adults, therefore limiting fundamental freedoms.
On the 14th of September, CNA reported that a hospital chapel in the town of Puerto Real, in the Diocese of Cádiz and Ceuta, had recently been desecrated twice. The first time, nothing was stolen but someone moved the tabernacle so that it was out of joint and left a dirty glass in it. The second time, the consecrated hosts were stolen and the veil of the tabernacle was torn off. The police were notified.
The Home Secretary of the UK has now clarified that “silent prayer, within itself, is not unlawful” in a letter for the police forces across the country. This statement comes in response to many months of controversy over "buffer zones" outside abortion facilities that have led to the arrest of several citizens for praying silently in their minds inside a buffer zone.
Between September 4th and 6th, an organ console worth 5000€ was stolen from a church in Detmold. This is not only significant because of the monetary value but it also hinders the ceremonial process of the mass. Local police assumes that there were at lease two people involved in the theft and started an investigation.
In the night of September 4th to 5th, unidentified thieves managed to break into the church by entering through a window of the neighbouring building and then using the shared basement. They left with the tabernacle, the golden chalice inside it and two more boxes of unknown content. Since the tabernacle is quite heavy, police expects that more than one person must have been involved in the crime. The exact damage is unknown since it is not clear what the tabernacle and the chalice are made of. The local police started an investigation.
During the 31st of August and the 1st September, Finnish Politian Päivi Räsänen and Lutheran Bishop Juhana Pohjola stood trial at the Helsinki Court of Appeal for the charges brought against them of "inciting hatred" against LGBT people. These charges are based upon a Twitter post made by Räsänen in 2019, as well as a pamphlet and a radio interview. Last year, Räsänen and Pohjola were unanimously acquitted of all charges, but due to the appeal by the prosecutor, they stood trial again. The verdict will be announced in November 30th.
The verdict of the Court against Fr Ioann Kurmoyarov was given on 31 August and has finally sentenced the hieromonk to 3 years in a penal colony accused of disseminating false information about the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
On the night of 24 August 2023, three men broke 6 stone crosses from de crowns on Margaret Bridge in Budapest. The perpetrators were filmed by CCTV cameras and an investigation has been launched by the police to identify them.
A man targeted a Catholic church in Haninge, near Stockholm, with stones while shouting "Allah Akbar, I'm going to rape Jesus." The video is uploaded by 'Fares Aziz', he posted the video on TikTok. It is not exactly clear when the event took place or the response of the authorities.
Vandals set fire to a wooden cross erected a few years ago in the Nagy-Szénás mountain, near the village of Nagykovácsi. This happened on 20 August, when Hungary celebrates its first king St. Stephen I and the State Foundation Day. The burning of the cross, erected on the 550-metre-high peak, has provoked strong anger among the villagers who have already started a fundraising campaign to replace the cross as soon as possible. The perpetrators have not been identified.
On 17 August a foreign man attacked the historic church of Santa Cristina in Turin's Plazza San Carlo in broad daylight. The attack can be seen in a video that is circulating on the Internet. In the video, the man can be heard cursing at the worshippers inside the church, and shouting: 'F****ng Christians'. The perpetrator was arrested by the police and was taken to a hospital, as he injured himself while throwing stones against the church.
On August 17, a video surfaced on the Internet showing a man in the Apostolos Andreas Monastery in the Karpasia peninsula of Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, harassing a priest by reciting the Shahāda (Islamic profession of faith). Legal proceedings have been initiated against the provokator.
Pastor Viachaslau Hancharenka of the New Life Full Gospel Church in Minsk, was detained together with his son-in-law Illia Budai on the 15th of August. According to the news, 20 armed policemen broke into his house, searched and detained them. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and his son-in-law to 5 days in jail for resisting the detention.
On the night of 7-8 August, a group of unidentified vandals entered and destroyed the parish facilities of the Santa Maria Liberatrice parish in Vigentino, Milan. "The area with all the objects was ransacked, plus two fire extinguishers were emptied. There was white powder everywhere," told one of the founders of the association that is helping to clean and repair the destruction. The carabinieri investigating the case are also voluntarily helping with the clearing clear out of service hours.
Unknown perpetrators targeted the side entrance of the Basilica of San Paolino in Lucca with red paint. The parish priest Don Lucio Malanca told the newspaper "La Nazione" that they have experienced of repeated acts of vandalism. He said: "Unfortunately, this is not even the most serious act of vandalism suffered by our Lucchese churches and monuments in the historic centre".
The Office for Kosovo and Metohija of the Government of the Republic of Serbia reported and shared pictures of a vandalic attack that the church of Saint Petka suffered on 7 August. The church is located in the settlement of Suvi Do, close to Mitrovica, and belongs to the Serbian Orthodox Church. The church was attacked the night before its dedication day (temple's glory day).
On the night of August 6-7, the monument with the letters "Leiria" in the city of the same name in Portugal was vandalized with an anti-Church slogan. The letters were put in commemoration of World Youth Day 2023 in Portugal painted with the colors and the logo of WYD.
The statue of St Anthony recently inaugurated in Torres Novas was vandalised on 5 August. It was found the next morning with the head cut off, baby Jesus destroyed and a carton banner written "God is dead" and "You paedophiles." The damage was valued at €13,000.
On August 5, a tile panel depicting the Ecce Homo (an image of Jesus Christ), the 5th station of the ancient procession of "Nosso Senhor dos Passos," was vandalized with the graffiti "God is trans" in the city of Torres Novas. This panel had recently been restored and blessed.
Unknown vandals entered San Lorenzo's medieval church in Varigotti on the night of 5-6 August and destroyed several things during the raid. Apart from ransacking the premises, they also stole offerings and other equipment from the church.
On 4 August the baroque Evangelical church of Großröhrsdorf, a small town in Saxony, burned down to the ground. After a week of investigation, the criminal investigation department determined that the cause of the fire was arson and a suspect has already been arrested.
On 4 August, the church of Saint Peter of Désaignes, in France, was vandalized on its interior. A crucifix was damaged, leaving the arms of Christ broken, when it was taken down and left near the altar. There were also tags painted with silver paint on two pillars on either side of the altar, representing the male and female symbols. The gendarmerie is conducting an investigation.
German luxury car brand Porsche digitally removed the statue of Christ the King in Lisbon from an advertisement celebrating 60 years of the Porsche 911 filmed in Portugal and published on 2 August. After the unreasonable removal of the monument caused outrage among Christians, the brand apologised for the "error" and re-published the video with the Christ unedited.
In the night of 1st to 2nd of August, a church in Graz was vandalised with graffiti. Perpetrators painted inverted crosses on the outside walls of the church. Inverted crosses are known to be anti-Christian, satanic and occultist symbols. The police were notified and have started an investigation.
At the end of July, it was communicated that a Swedish bakery has been reported to the Discrimination Ombudsman after they declined to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. The Christian bakers believe that the person who ordered the cake already knew their religious beliefs and intentionally generated this case.
On the 16. July, two youths stood trial in Leoben on charges of terrorist association and criminal organization. A 16-year-old and a 15-year-old planned a terrorist attack on MS Bruck school, since early 2022. The police found out through their chats that the plans were far advanced. When questioned, the perpetrators confirmed that they "wanted to shoot all the Christians in the class". The boys have now been convicted by law.
Felix Ngole, a Christian social worker, had a job offer by Touchstone Support withdrawn after the company found out that he won a free speech case over his Christian views. He says: “The reasons they gave for withdrawing the job offer were an attack on me and my faith." Ngole is now taking Touchstone to an employment tribunal.
On the 14th of July, the Saint Lucia church in Fondo, Italy, was found vandalised. The altar was damaged and a statue destroyed, with the vandals leaving a bottle of beer in the hands of the statue as a last act of destruction. The provincial councillor in Trento, Denis Paoli, condemns the attack: “What happened constitutes an intolerable outrage not only for the religious community but for the entire civil society."
On the 13th of July, 2023, an unknown vandal set fire to a cloth laying on a stand in the Roman Catholic church in Steinfeld, Germany. The cloth was completely burned and a Bible damaged, amounting to 300 euros in damage. This is the second case of arson in this church in the last three months.
On the night of Wednesday the 12th of July, the Lourdes-Grotto in the Italian town of Fescoggia was vandalised, with the flowerpots overturned. Giorgio Bazurri, of the parish Fescoggia: "Popular faith is being attacked here, the cultural tradition of those who built these chapels." This is not the only case of vandalisation in the area: the face of the Madonna figure of the Greina-Ebene was also found smeared with black paint recently.
On the 11th of July 2023, Dmitry Dashkevich, a Christian political activist in Belarus who was imprisoned last year, was supposed to be released. However, the authorities unexpectedly arrested him again. Dmitry Dashkevich is a Belarusian activist, he was the leader of the Belarusian democratic movement "Young Front" in 2004-2015. He has been repeatedly detained by the authorities since the early 2000's, already serving two years in prison from 2011-2013.
In the past year, the door of the Saint Joseph church in Stadthagen was smeared with faeces, the holy water font was filled with urine, and now the sanctuary was found urinated as well. Due to these attacks, the church has decided to close its doors to the public during the day, says Father Markus Grabowski: "For months our church has been urinated in, multiple times. We're tired and don't know what else to do but to close."
The New Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in England and Wales has published a new Trans Equality Statement that defines forms of abuse towards trans victims, including "withholding money for transitioning", "refusing to use their preferred name or pronoun" or "Body shaming or criticising the victim for not being 'a real man/woman' if they have not undergone reassignment surgery." It also states that these actions can be considered as domestic abuse by family members and partners. Therefore, the CPS guidance makes parents vulnerable to prosecution, if they do not agree with transgender children.
On the 7th of July, seed oil, which was supposed to be distributed to assisted families by Caritas was found smeared on the entrance of the Purgatoria al Castello church and convent in Carini, near Palermo. The vandals have not been identified.
In the afternoon of the 7th of July, 2023, the Liebfrauenkirche in Waldshut-Tiengen was found vandalised: the Bible was torn and the Easter candle was damaged. It was used to hit the piano, which damaged the paintwork. The police have started an investigation.
The Saint-Martin Church in Avallon was found vandalised on the 5th of July, 2023. The tabernacle which contains the consecrated hosts was damaged and a monstrance and two ciboria (chalices which contain the hosts) were stolen. This is not the first incident of its kind in Avallon: on June 28th, the St-Lazare church was targeted and a pyx containing hosts was stolen. Two complaints have been filed.
Unknown vandals smeared the walls of a church in Kirchberg, Böbingen an der Rems, with unreadable graffiti and two Nazi swastikas. The damage was found on the 7th of July, the police are still searching for witnesses.
In the early morning of July 4th 2023, a man set fire to the altar of the church Notre Dame de Kerdro in Locmariaquer, France. The fire was quickly brought under control by firefighters and only damaged the altar and some religious furniture. A complaint was filed to the police who arrested a 35-year-old man in connection to the fire. The man is set to be brought before the court in November.
Images of Jesus and Mary were beheaded and vandalized in a prayer garden in a district of Vienna. The prayer garden is considered a spiritual oasis for visitors. The alarm was raised by two bypassers who discovered the devastated prayer garden. The police have been notified and they are conducting investigations to identify the motives and the perpetrators. A video by "Project Telos" shows the devastation of several objects in the garden, and the direct targeting of the statues of Mary and Jesus.
In the evening of the 3rd of July, the firemen of the town of Schramberg, Germany, were called out to the church of Saint Maria - Heilig Geist where a stranger had set a table on fire in the back of the church. Dean Rüdiger Kocholl is deeply shocked and worries that the attack may have been planned. On top of setting the table on fire, new signs had been placed on the donation boxes, stating a new purpose for the donated money: for example, for drugs, alcohol and satanism.
A canvas painting that served as an altarpiece in the Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche in Ansbach was torn by a knife on Monday morning, the 3rd of July, 2023. The picture was made by the Ansbacher artist Georg Friedrich Bischoff (1819-1873). The restoration of the image is estimated to cost 2000-2500 euros.
In the night of July 1st to 2nd the St. Jakobus church in Rheinfeld am Rhein was severely vandalised. The intruders left without stealing anything but caused damages to the amount of 38 500€. Among other things, the intruders damaged an historical window and the church's organ. Police were notified and have started an investigation.
Multiple religious items were stolen on the night of the 30th of June to the 1st of July, 2023, at the Heilig Kreuz church in Mönchengladbach, Germany. The thieves came in by forcing the door to the church and from the main room there they came into the sacristy by breaking the window. Two individual patens were stolen and one chalice with paten was stolen. The police have started an investigation.
On the 29th of June, the Irish Government approved legislation to introduce 100-metre buffer zones around abortion clinics similar to those already in place in Northern Ireland and with the PSPO's and the Public Order bill in England and Wales. In the same way as in the UK, the legislation does not distinguish between harassment and peaceful activism such as silent prayer or mere physical presence inside the buffer zone.
Between the 29th of June and the 6th of July the organ in the Herz Jesu church in Völklingen was damaged: tea lights were thrown against the pipes causing dents. The estimated damage is around 4000 euros. The police have started an investigation.
The evangelical church Philadelphia in Marseille was found ransacked on Wednesday, June 28th. The prayer room was destroyed with doors and windows fractured as well. On top of material damage, the tags speak of the anti-Christian nature of the attack: "Jesus is not God" and "Mohammed was the last prophet" were found written on the walls. The pastor has filed a complaint. It is unclear whether the attack is connected to the recent civil unrest in France.
On the 28th of June, 2023, the UK government voted to introduce a new mandatory curriculum on sex and abortion in Northern Ireland, which includes education on the prevention of early pregnancy and how to access an abortion. This legislation has met with worry about the freedom of conscience and religion in Northern Ireland. Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said: "This legislation will likely put teachers and parents who oppose abortion in a very difficult situation.”
The so-called SOGI report from the UN, made public on the 15th of June, proposes to limit freedom of conscience and religious freedom, to avoid discrimination against the LGBT community. The National Council of Evangelicals of France (CNEF) expressed worry about the implications of this report in a statement, which has also been supported by the World Evangelical Alliance and the European Evangelical Alliance.
On the 20th of June, the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig ruled that blanket bans against peaceful prayer gatherings near abortion organisations were impermissible. With this ruling, the legal issues end for a local prayer group in Pforzheim, which are challenging the bans since 2019. Germany’s highest administrative court has protected freedom of assembly, but Federal minister for Family Affairs Lisa Paus is planning to introduce censorship zones around abortion organisations.
The glass of a candlestick was broken as were numerous candles, the contents of a first-aid kit were scattered on the floor, a holy water font was emptied and self-painted pictures of the first communion soaked with water in a large-scale act of vandalism in the St-Cyriak-Kirche in Dielheim, discovered on the 22nd of June. The damage is estimated to be around 3000 euros. This current case of vandalisation has moved the parish council to go to the police and limit the opening hours of the church. The church has seen smaller acts of vandalism before, including broken windows or candles, but something of this scale hasn't occurred since 2017.