An atheist couple who launched a High Court challenge because they feel their children are being religiously "indoctrinated" during assemblies have won their judicial review claim. The Burford primary school in the Cotswolds in Oxfordshire is one of 33 schools of the Church of England's Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust (ODST). Although parents were already entitled to withdraw their children from assemblies, even in church-run schools, The Harrises have argued that the school must provide an "inclusive assembly as a meaningful alternative for pupils withdrawn from Christian worship," rather than simply supervision of the children.
In October 2018, an elderly nun applied for a place in a retirement home in Vesoul, run by the city's Centre Communal d'Action Sociale (CCAS) in her home prefecture of Haute-Saone. After nine months on the waiting list, on July 2019, her request for housing was accepted, but with one condition: "With due respect for secularism, any ostentatious sign of belonging to a religious community cannot be accepted in order to ensure the serenity of all. Indeed, religion is a private affair and must remain so." The nun was told she could only wear a discreet cross. Having worn her religious habit all of her adult life, she refused to comply and was thus denied a place.
On the afternoon of November 16th, an unidentified man entered the Trasfigurazione del Signor church in Scorrano while it was empty and stole money from the donation box and a golden necklace from around the neck of a statue of the Virgin Mary. Before leaving the church, he urinated on the altar underneath the crucifix. The incident was captured on video and police are investigating the identity of the individual.
A visitor to the St. Katharina Kirche in Buschhoven discovered that a fire had been set in the church during the early afternoon of November 16th. Local media reports that books and booklets were placed on top of the lit candlesticks in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary, revered by Christians and pilgrims as the "Rosa Mystica." The books caught fire and the church was enveloped in a huge mass of smoke and soot before the fire brigade was able to extinguish the blaze. Earlier in the week, a fire had been set in the same church using the candles but was extinguished before major damage occurred.
The Protestant Versöhnungskirche in Buschhoven was the target of vandalism twice in the same week, with its hymnals and booklets scattered, seat cushions thrown on the floor, candles pushed off the altar, and a small fire lit on a doormat. These incidents coincided with fires having been set at the nearby St. Katharina Kirche.
On morning of November 14th, the hermitage of the Holy Sepulcher in Tauste (Zaragoza) was discovered vandalized and the life-sized statue of the Nazarene Christ burnt. The custodian of the hermitage, Juan Francés, found the remains of a fire when he opened the hermitage and found "everything lying on the ground and on fire.” The city council of Tauste condemned the attack on the hermitage “It was an attack on a religious and cultural symbol of our people. It is not a simple act of vandalism.”
Intruders broke into the Star of the Sea Carmelite Nuns monastery in Malahide in the early afternoon of November 11th and verbally abused the elderly resident sisters, sprayed and smeared the walls of convent's chapel with graffiti.
Just before an evening Mass on November 9th, unidentified vandals entered the Tonnay-Charente church and tore open the tabernacle of the altar of the Virgin Mary, breaking the doors. The consecrated hosts in the ciborium were thrown to the ground and the glass container holding a host consecrated for adoration was stolen. In addition, crosses were reversed and chairs and statues were broken, including one depicting St. Joseph holding the baby Jesus, which was decapitated by the perpetrators. The Bishop said, this was "desecration, not burglary."
A car fitted with a battering ram was driven into the door of the Cathedral Sainte-Marie d'Oloron in southwestern France on November 4th. Once inside the cathedral, thieves entered the chapel and sawed the iron bars protecting sacred and liturgical items. They stole chalices, ciboria, a centuries old nativity scene, and vestments used by the priest for the Mass. Authorities characterized the theft as organized and well-planned.
Just before All Saints' Day, about 100 graves were damaged or destroyed in the Breuil cemetery of Cognac. Christian symbols including crucifixes, crosses, and statues of the Virgin Mary and angels were targeted. An 18-year-old self-described Satanist who "hates all religions, especially Catholicism," was arrested by the police. The timing of the incident, given its close proximity to the feast of All Saints and All Souls, shocked local residents.
More than 40 graves were vandalized in the cemetery of the Our Lady Mother of the Church (Maryi Panny Matki Kościoła) parish of Zabrzu-Helence during the night between October 26 and 27, just days before Catholics observe All Saints' and All Souls' Days. Granite tombstones were torn down and broken, and wooden crosses were destroyed by unknown vandals.
The parish priest of the Basilica of San Giovanni Maggiore in Naples has condemned the fire set in the church's musician's chapel, known as the Ecce Homo. The fire had spread to the altar when firefighters were able to extinguish it.
Radical feminists claimed responsibility for breaking into the Pro Femina crisis pregnancy center in Berlin during the night of October 5-6. They smashed the windows on the third floor, smeared a hallway with paint and butyric acid (a foul smelling chemical) and the slogan "Pro Choice!", and glued closed the locks.
Tens of thousands of French protestors took to the streets of Paris on October 6th to protest the draft bioethics law which passed the lower house of parliament on September 25th. The bill would, amongst other provisions, allow all women under 43 the right to "medically assisted procreation," including in-vitro fertilization (IVF), regardless of their relationship status, or sexual orientation. Currently, French law only allows access to IVF to heterosexual couples unable to have children through natural means, who are either married, or who have lived together for two years.
Before dawn on October 5th, one or more intruders entered the 18th century Chapel of La Rosa in the Córdoba provincial town of Montilla through a side door. Once inside, they found the keys to the tabernacle, opened the pyx inside and scattered several hosts on the altar, according to the Rev. José Félix García, pastor of the parish of Santiago, to which the chapel belongs. Police opened an investigation.
An Iranian Christian woman living in the state of Hesse in Germany fears for her life if she is forced to return to Iran, due to strict anti-conversion laws. The woman known as "Mahsa" fled Iran and traveled to Germany in 2015, after an attempted arrest by the religious police for her conversion to Christianity. A recent decision by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) denying her asylum limits Mahsa's options going forward.
A Christian doctor has lost an employment tribunal case, where he alleged that the Department of Work and Pensions breached his freedom of thought, conscience and religion pursuant to the Equality Act. Disability assessor, Dr. David Mackereth claimed discrimination on part of the Department of Work and Pensions for failing to accommodate his refusal to use pronouns which did not correspond with the biological sex of clients. In its decision, the panel stated that Dr. Mackereth's belief that "the Bible teaches us that God made humans male or female" was "incompatible with human dignity."
In March 2019, a Christian West End actress, Seyi Omooba, was removed from a leading role in a musical and dropped from her agency for a Facebook post about homosexuality citing the Bible over four years earlier. With representation by the Christian Legal Centre, she launched a legal challenge on September 30th against Leicester Curve Theatre and her agency, Global Artists, for breach of contract and anti-Christian discrimination.
Northern Ireland Minister received correspondence from more than 700 medical practitioners calling for conscience protections which would allow Christians and conscientious objectors within the profession the statutory right to refuse to participate in abortions.
The crucifix monument on the grounds of the Saint-Patrice church in the Croix-Rouge district of Marseille, was found vandalized with red paint on September 26th. It was the fifth time since the middle of May 2019 that the Christ figure had been defaced with red or blue paint. Public employees removed the paint and Marseille public officials denounced the vandalism.
In a written statement, the Catholic Youth Association condemned Adam Nergal Darski, the frontman of Polish extreme metal band 'Behemoth,' for his September 25th post on Facebook depicting him trampling on a devotional image of the Virgin Mary.
The Saarland Prime Minister Tobias Hans (CDU) rejected the request of the Assyrian Cultural Association Saarlouis allow about 400 Syrian Christians from the conflict-torn region of Northern Syria on the Khabur River to enter Saarland. Despite offers of respite and assistance from the existing Assyrian community in the German federal state, the government said it would only admit five refugees.
The trial of a 26-year-old Afghan who was charged with committing serious bodily injury against a Christian convert at the Rottacher Traglufthalle asylum accommodation in 2016 began on September 24th.
After surviving a 2014 car accident which resulted in tetraplegic paralysis and blindness, Italian disc Jockey Fabiano Antoniani (DJ Fabo) traveled to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland to end his life. The subsequent ruling of the Italian Constitutional Court over proceedings made against his accomplice now opens the door for the legalization of assisted suicide in Italy.
Over the last few months, a church in Abertridwr, Wales endured repeated acts of vandalism, resulting in fears that it will have to close to public visits during the week. Damage included a stolen collection box, a damaged and defaced historic visitors book, in use since the 1940s, a flagstone outside the church was removed, and fire extinguishers were sprayed inside the church, causing both damage and financial burden.
Police in Olecko investigated acts of vandalism against the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Poland (kościele Najświętszej Maryi Panny Królowej Polski) where anti-religious phrases such as "Catholicism Decieves" and "Lead us not" (referring to part of the Lord's Prayer) were painted in black on the wall.
The approved rally "March for Life" in Zurich on the afternoon of September 14th was disrupted by an unauthorized counter-demonstration. More than a thousand peaceful participants in the March for Life gathered on the Turbinenplatz to begin the march on an approved route in the city. At the same time, several hundred people -- called by some press reports a Red-Green alliance -- some with prams containing objects to be thrown (including stones and bottles), convened on the Josefswiese to start an unauthorized counter-demonstration parade. As they attempted to stop the counter-demo and prevent a clash with the March for Life, police were attacked with objects, including bottles and stones. Dumpsters were set on fire, a police vehicle was demolished, and firefighters were hindered by the protesters. In response, the police used a water cannon, rubber bullets, and tear gas to deter the protesters. Due to the violence, the police stopped the March for Life temporarily and ultimately shortened the route to prevent an encounter with the counter-demonstrators, some of whom were masked.
For the fourth time since May 2019, the crucifix monument on the grounds of the Saint-Patrice church in hte Croix-Rouge district of Marseille was vandalized on September 9th. As in previous incidents, the Christ figure was defaced with paint. In this instance the vandals used red paint to cover parts of the head and body.
A Marseille resident reported to l'Observatoire de la Christianophobie that religious statues in various districts of the city had been damaged over several months. Incidents included: the hands severed from a statue of the Virgin Mary, the crown broken from another statue of the Virgin Mary, and the arms broken off a statue of the infant Jesus.
The Helsinki Police Department announced it had opened pre-trial investigations into Päivi Räsänen, a Christian Democrat MP, for her criticism of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland's (ELCF) participation in the Helsinki LGBT Pride events in June. She posted a photograph of Romans 1:24-26 from the New Testament on Facebook and wrote "How does the foundation of the church’s teachings, the Bible, fit with elevating sin and shame as reasons for pride?"
Police announced on August 21st that an 18-year-old man would be charged with defecating in a shrine to the Virgin Mary and then smearing his feces on a statue of Christ and on the walls of the church, Spanish news agencies report. The incident, caught on CCTV, took place on July 26 at the Santuario de la Virgen de la Fuensanta in the Jaén provincial town of Villanueva del Arzobispo.
The church of Saint-Éloi (parish of the Bienheureuses-Carmélites-de-Compiègne), diocese of Compiegne, Oise) was robbed, vandalized, and desecrated between the 3rd and 9th of August. Sound equipment, a ciborium, an aspergillum (a liturgical implement used to sprinkle holy water), holy water font, and other liturgical objects were stolen. The burglars forced open the tabernacle to steal the ciborium and stole consecrated hosts, as well. "The most essential thing for us is that the tabernacle was forced, and that the Blessed Sacrament, the presence of Christ was touched, stolen. Which is for us a desecration. The real presence of Christ has been stolen. It's something strong," said the communications director of the Oise diocese.
Six windows were smashed and mysterious graffiti reading "BEAST" was written on the wall of St. Oswald's Roman Catholic Presbytery in Old Swan (Liverpool). Police began an investigation.
Irish police Gardaí investigated an attempted burglary at the Catholic St. Michael's Church in Shroid, Longford Co. after a passerby reported broken windows to the parish house. Unknown perpetrators smashed a few plain glass windows and a stained glass window depicting the Sacred Heart which was over the altar of the church between July 28th and August 2nd.
Protestant pastor Dr. Gottfried Martens, who ministers to over 1,600 people in his church, most of them converts and asylum seekers from Iran and Afghanistan, has said that whether someone is granted asylum or not is almost like a "pure gamble." The problem Martens sees in the administrative courts is how judges "verify" the earnestness of an asylum seeker's conversion to Christianity. Some trust a pastor's statement whether written or oral in court, while some ignore it and only focus on the short time they spend with the refugee in court. This fully depends on what kind of judge one gets appointed to, according to Martens, and there is no way to prepare well enough for a court date if there is no general regulation that a minister's statement be taken into account.
During the early morning hours of August 1st, unknown perpetrators vandalized the church of Sant'Antonio in Crebbio, Abbadia Lariana. They smeared excrement on the front door, staircase, lawn, and the cobblestones outside the church. Volunteers immediately began cleaning the heavily soiled area and found a yellow bowl with some dung residue. The parish priest of Abbadia and the community expressed deep shock and outrage. Police opened an investigation.
An unidentified person pried open the offertory box for candles on July 30th in the St. Pancratius Catholic Church in Körbecke, Möhnesee.
A Christian patient’s request to have Sunday worship services at a medium secure mental health unit in East London have finally been granted after a year-long legal battle with the NHS on the grounds of religious discrimination. As a result of his weekly requests falling on deaf ears, Freddie O'Neil turned to the Christian Legal Centre (CLC) for support. A pre-action letter was then sent to the East London Foundation Trust in October 2018 stating that, as a Christian, Freddie needed to attend Sunday Christian services each week as well as receiving Holy Communion. After a year, and further threats of legal action, the Centre finally began offering weekly Sunday Christian services on Sunday 7 July 2019.
Several swastikas were spray-painted on the oratory and a cross in the Comeragh mountains overlooking Clonmel by unknown vandals sometime before July 30th. A team of volunteers of the Holy Year Cross Committee in Clonmel had come up to the site to prepare it for the annual August bank holiday Monday mass when they discovered the graffiti. Gardaí investigated the incident.
Construction workers noticed the smell of burning wood and smoke when they arrived at the Nikolaus-Kirchlein ("little church") in Buchenberg, Königsfeld in the Black Forest in the morning of the 30th of July. They alerted firefighters who were able to extinguish the fire before too much damage was done. The more than 800-year-old church remained mostly unscathed, as only one pew was damaged by the fire. Police are estimating a property damage of 5,000 euros and speculate that the fire began in the area of the altar, but an investigation was opened.
An unknown arsonist set fire to a cloth in the St. Magnus church of the Schussenried Abbey in Bad Schussenried on July 29th. The fire then extended to pictures and a wooden cross nearby. A witness noticed the fire and was able to extinguish it. Police are investigating.
Unknown perpetrators set a row of hymnals on a shelf on fire in the St. Mauritius Catholic Church in Kippenheim in the early evening of July 27th. Witnesses noticed the fire and notified the police who were able to extinguish the fire and are now investigating.
Four of the 14 chapels of the Valinhos Way of the Cross or the Shepherd's Way in Fatima were vandalized with yellow spray paint during the night between July 25th and 26th. The unknown perpetrators sprayed the heads and intimate areas of the figures, along with obscene words. The Shrine of Fatima covered the chapels and will carry out the extensive cleaning work required to remove the paint.
The Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers has sought a court order to shut down an artist’s installation entitled "Pederoclastia" that contains "ornaments used in Catholic worship" and "figures of children in explicitly sexual postures." The Association also said on July 19 that it would file a criminal complaint against artist Fernando Barredo de Valenzuela (who is also the coordinator for Toledo Laica) for offending religious sentiments and inciting hatred, and may take steps against the Círculo de Arte de Toledo for "attacking the feelings of Catholics." On July 25, Toledo’s Court of First Instance No 2 opened a preliminary investigation into the possibility that the case constituted corruption of minors but had not ordered the exhibition to be shut down.
At 4:30 pm on July 22th, a parishioner noticed the smell of smoke emanating from the Notre-Dame church in Autun. When she entered the church, she discovered that two people were already there extinguishing the fire with their feet. The police reportedly found that there were two distinct fires set: one near the altar and the other near prayer chairs. An investigation is under way.
Unknown vandals vandalized large areas of St. Paulus Protestant Church's exterior in Heiden between July 21st and 22nd. They targeted a park bench, the church wall, six windows, and the surrounding bricks.
A 46-year-old man was charged with spray-painting the number ‘666’ on 87 tombstones in a church cemetery in North Jutland, Denmark. Staff from the Hadsund Church noticed the damage on Sunday morning, July 21st. After an investigation, the man was arrested on July 24th after witnesses came forward. The man, who had been convicted of similar vandalism of a cemetery in 2016, denied responsibility for this incident.
In the early hours of July 19th, a passer-by notified the fire department that the warehouse of the Old Church in Hyvinkää was in flames and the church building itself was also on fire. Due to the results of the preliminary investigation, the chief inspector suspected the fire was set intentionally and opened an arson investigation. The wooden church itself remained mostly intact, however, the storage facility housing gardening tools was completely destroyed by the fire.
During Sunday Mass on the 14 of July, parishioners learned of vandalism in both the church and chapel of the Saint-Mathieu parish in Pays d'Iroise (diocese of Quimper, Finistère). In the church of Saint-Budoc à Porspoder damage included a vandalized offertory box, cigarettes left in front of the altar of the Blessed Virgin, the door of the sacristy obstructed by the insertion of gravel in the lock, and vomit in the holy water stoups. In the Chapelle Saint-Samson à Landunvez, the most photographed chapel in France, an offertory box was vandalized and a cross thrown in the trash.
On July 12th, firefighters were called to a fire at St. Margaret's Ruined Church in Hopton after a motorbike was set on fire underneath the 13th century building. While the incident was ruled an arson by officials, the investigation was closed in October due to lack of evidence.
An unknown person intentionally set off the alarm in the church of Saint-Hippolyte in Paris around 9:30 am on July 11th and once the church was evacuated, took the opportunity to vandalize the payment terminals for church contributions (Denier de l’Église). As a result, the church restricted its opening hours to afternoons in July and August.
A man in his thirties was arrested on July 8th at around 7 pm, after he entered the cathedral of Sées with several cans of gasoline. Witnesses apprehended him and handed him over to the police. According to reports, the man, who suffers from psychological problems, was taken to the psychotherapeutic center of Orne for compulsory hospitalization. However no criminal prosecution will be launched against him. According to the public prosecutor, "there is a total absence of discernment. He is totally irresponsible ... No criminal action may be taken."
Between June 26th and June 30th, two fires were discovered in the 13th century église Saint-Lô in Bourg-Achard (Eure). According to the police in charge of the investigation, there is a high probability that these two fires were deliberately set.
A juvenile court has sentenced a 16-year-old boy to six months in custody for racial slurs and for threatening to kill the parish priest, a native of India, in the Malaga provincial town of Benajarafe.
The crucifix monument on the grounds of the church of Saint-Patrice in the Croix-Rouge district was discovered defaced with red paint on June 26th. The Christ figure had been previously painted with blue paint twice in May.
Many Christians complained about being offended and insulted for their religious faith after verbal attacks by Rudi Fußi on the Austrian talkshow "Fellner! Live: Rudi Fußi vs. Andreas Mölzer" which aired on June 17th on OE24.TV. As a guest on the program, Fußi launched into a tirade calling the estimated 10,000 Christians gathered at an evangelical event “lunatics” and mocking the act of praying for the Republic of Austria and the former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, calling it "completely cuckoo, totally sick" after the show host had introduced the topic.
The national bomb protection agency was called in to investigate an explosion at an events hall at the St. Afrem Syrian Orthodox Church in Södertälje in the early morning hours of June 14th. The blast was reportedly strong enough to be heard 100 meters away. The same building, owned by the church, was the target of an explosion in September.
A tourist discovered that fires had been set in confessionals in the Dominican church of St. Rotunda during the afternoon of June 12th and extinguished them with holy water. This incident was announced on June 19th, the same day as a series of arson attacks in Graz, including at the city hall, courthouse, district administration building, and the main station. A 45-year-old Iraqi was arrested by police after the fire at the station.
On June 11th, unknown thieves targeted the church of the convent of São Domingo in Viana do Castelo (Minho) and stole a gilt metal reliquary containing the bones of Blessed Bartholomew of Braga (Bartolomeu dos Mártires) who was a former Archbishop of Braga and is well known and greatly revered in Portugal. The bishop of Viana do Castelos called the theft an "attack on the feelings" of Catholics. The parish priest of Igreja de São Domingos said the stolen gold-plated reliquary "does not have great commercial value, but what was in it, the bones of Bartolomeu dos Mártires, is of incalculable value."
A Wroclaw priest, Fr. Ireneusz Bakalarczyk was attacked by a a 56-year-old man and stabbed with a knife on his way to the morning Mass on Pentacost Monday. The attacker, identified as Zygmunt W., was arrested and on June 11th he was brought before a court. News reports indicate that the man confessed to the crime and was not under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident. Prosecutors have not released any details about his motive. A spokesperson from the Archdiocese of Wrocław said there was no indication that Fr. Bakalarczyk was personally targeted, but that the suspect likely intended to attack any "man in a cassock."
The websites of HazteOir (a Christian advocacy group) and its international platform, CitizenGO, were the victims of a cyber attack on Monday, June 10th. The Spanish hackers were explicit about their ideological reasons for the attack, saying: “Are you enjoying the web attack? Delete all your content... related to LGBT. Delete also the sexist content and the content against abortion. If you don’t do it before the weekend, this will be a war and you will regret it.”
During the night between June 8 and 9, a hundred graves in the Terre-Cabade cemetery, the largest cemetery in Toulouse were damaged by vandals. According to reports, crucifixes and crosses on the graves were broken and scattered, as well as flowers and planters. Jewish and Muslim graves in the cemetery of 300,000 graves were unharmed.
Unidentified vandals targeted the St. Josef Catholic Church in Ebingen, Albstadt during the night of June 9th (Whitsunday to Whitmonday). They damaged the shrine outside the church by smashing the glass pane, tore down flowerpots, and destroyed candles. They also smashed the mirror glass in the bathroom which is accessible from the outside with a rock. Property damage amounts to about 100 euros.
The Protestant Church in Dierdorf im Westerwald has been a target for vandalism for nearly two years. Reports beginning in July 2017 indicate that vandals have smashed windows, burned feminine hygiene products stuck to a wall to damage wall plaster, left graffiti on the walls and doors, knocked over park benches, and littered the area around the church every week. Property damage has reached tens of thousands of euros. The congregation is frustrated and horrified.
On June 4th, the statue of Archangel Saint-Michel was found smashed into pieces on the grounds of the lycée-collège Saint-Michel de Picpus, a Catholic secondary school in Paris. Unknown vandals also heavily tagged the school's main entrance. The school had installed the statue of its the patron saint outside the school building after a dedication ceremony at the beginning of the school year. On June 4th the statue
The fire department in Ankum was called to a smoldering fire in the St. Nikolaus Catholic Church around noon on June 1st. When the team of 33 firefighters in six firetrucks arrived, the Swedish visitors who had initially discovered the two spots of smoldering fire in the church, had already extinguished them out with water. According to police, the church wasn't damaged by the fire and the fire department only had to inspect the site and quickly gave the all-clear. Police suspect arson and began their investigation with the help of the Swedish visitors describing two girls running out of the church just before they themselves entered and the church's surveillance video tapes.
Between May 29th and 31st, several unknown perpetrators broke into the Osterfeld Protestant Church in Berkheim, Esslingen. They entered by climbing the porch roof and, once inside, stole three game consoles and eight controllers from the youth room as well as one digital and one SLR camera from a storage room. The value of the stolen goods was estimated at around 1,000 euros and the property damage amounted to around 2,000 euros.
On May 31st, the Lutheran Nikolaikirche in Caldern was the target of vandals. Sometime between 8:30 am and 1:30 pm, unknown perpetrators entered the church, set fire to the bible and hymn book on the altar, and damaged three large candles. They also broke into a cabinet and a chest, but stole nothing. Finally, they left a pile of feces at the church entrance and another on a bench outside the church. Property damage amounted to approximately 300 euros and it is not yet clear how the perpetrators accessed the church. For the time being, the church will stay closed while investigations are ongoing.
Some time between May 29th and 30th, rocks were thrown at the stained glass windows of the north transept of La Roë Abbey.
After the morning Mass on May 30th, parishioners discovered that the statue of a little shepherd praying had been decapitated in front of the Notre-Dame church.
During the Ascension Mass on May 30th, two thieves aged between 40 and 50 were caught stealing 1,200 euros and 42 pounds sterling from the offertory boxes in the Sanctuary of Lourdes, in the Hautes-Pyrénées. The Spaniards, known to both French and Spanish police, worked in a coordinated manner for several days, with one on the lookout while the other was stealing the donations. The security services in the sanctuary caught them via surveillance video and handed them over to the police who held them in custody. At the end of their hearings by the investigators, they were released until their scheduled appearance before the Tarbes Criminal Court in October.
Two of the relics of the Fatima child saints as well as copies of a crown and golden rosary of the Fatima Virgin Mary statue were stolen from the Gesu Divino Lavoratore Catholic Church in Verona on May 29th while they were being taken around the country on a pilgrimage tour. Although they were only small pieces of cloth which once belonged to the Portuguese sheperd children Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who were canonized in May 2017 by Pope Francis, they are of great value for devout Catholics. Priest Andrea Ronconi said he was “heartbroken and mortified” by the theft and that it probably happened at noontime. Police are looking for the two suspects with who the priest might even have conversed before he locked the church for lunch break.
A large crucifix with Christ figure in front of the Saint-Patrice church in the Croix-Rouge district of Marseille was vandalized with blue paint on May 29th. According to reports, this is the second such vandalism in 15 days.
During the night of May 29th to 30th, twelve graves were vandalized in the cemetery Celleneuve in Montpellier (Hérault department). The perpetrators appeared to have specifically targeted crucifixes. The police closed the cemetery on the Ascension holiday to conduct an investigation. Titina Dasylva, deputy mayor in charge of security, expressed her outrage about the incident on Twitter.
On May 28th, the Catholic Chapel of St. Padre Pio in Płońsk was the target of vandals who desecrated the chapel's crucifix by taking it off the wall and smashing it. According to the parish priest, a parishioner who came to pray in the chapel found the cross on the floor and the ceramic Jesus Christ statue from the cross broken into pieces. Police are investigating.
Witnesses called the police from two different churches in Vienna (Michaelerplatz and Florianigasse) to report thefts from the offertory box in the middle of the day on May 27th. Both suspects were arrested while they were still in and around the church buildings. The police found coins in double-digit total value on each of the perpetrators.
According to a report from the mother of a 5-year-old boy who attends a government-run kindergarten in Budapest, the teacher told her son not to talk about God with other children because there were non-believers in the classroom. However, there have been entire morning programs devoted to learning about astrology/zodiac signs. When the boy's mother complained to the kindergarten director, she was told that the school maintains Christian traditions with the celebration of Christmas and Easter, but that the teacher was correct to stop the discussion of God's existence and to prohibit the children from talking about God.
On a Sunday afternoon, perpetrators tagged a church in Kronach with the tags "RCS" and "RCG" causing damage estimated at about 500 euros. The graffiti was found on the main entrance door and on a message board.
During the May 25th Tri-City Equality March in Gdansk, which was organized by the LGBT communities, the Catholic tradition of Corpus Christi processions was parodied. A group of people in multicolored costumes with rainbow halos were supposed to imitate the typical attire of a statue of the Virgin Mary. Each of them held on to a ribbon attached to a highly provocative sign depicting a crowned vagina where in Catholic Corpus Christi processions the Blessed Sacrament (a consecrated host) would be. A person dressed in white, imitating a priest, was holding the sign. The city's mayor participated and gave an opening speech at the march, calling it an honor to open the event.
Vandalism such as graffiti and littering has been a recurring problem at the ancient church of Santa Maria in Colle. (Link below to April incident). On May 25th perpetrators struck again. Graffiti in the form of doodles and insults was found on the church walls and quickly removed. In a response to the persistent vandalism, a local historian appealed to everyone to keep the church clean and sacred by emphasizing the value and importance of the place for the community and accentuating that workers once had given their lives to build this church. However, the vandals were little impressed by his appeal and made the church their target as they returned to cover the freshly whitewashed walls of the church with graffiti again that same night.
Police investigated an arson attack on the Holy Family Catholic Church in Ballymagroarty (Northern Ireland). An outbuilding next to the church was set on fire at around 10:30pm on May 24th. 20 firefighters battled the blaze which spread to the church roof and were able to contain it before it spread to the chapel or parochial house. The parochial house was evacuated. The fire service reported that CCTV cameras filmed two people setting the fire.
Legal proceedings were launched in the High Court against Richmond Council to challenge a controversial Public Space Protection Order (“PSPO”) around an abortion clinic on Rosslyn Road that makes it a criminal offense to, among other things, pray or have conversations about abortion. The legal challenge has been brought by Justyna Pasek, who has personally supported women visiting the abortion clinic in Richmond for over five years, offering them alternatives to abortion.
During the night of May 20th to May 21st, the Chapelle Sainte-Anne in Brest was again the target of vandalism in the form of graffiti. It is not the first time unknown perpetrators have sprayed obscene and blasphemous tags on the wall of the chapel or disturbed Sunday services. The abbot said: "The chapel is regularly targeted by nauseating inscriptions. ...The ideology of their authors is clear. Residents testify to their desolation at seeing hatred spread regularly against this peaceful chapel."
Police reported that unknown perpetrators broke in a church window with stones and invaded the interior of the church of the Heiligen Dreifaltigkeit in Großholbach (Westerwald in Rhineland-Palatinate) during the night of May 18th to 19th. Several sacred objects, including statues of saints, were broken. The Jesus figure was removed from the crucifix and burned. The intruders also urinated in the aisle and on several pews.
Police announced on May 19th that a tablecloth had been set on fire in the vestibule of St. Blasii's Evangelical church in Nordhausen during the night of May 18th. Fortunately, it did not catch fire completely. There were also traces of fire on a cordon to the church balcony. The professional fire brigade used a thermal imaging camera to scan other areas for evidence of fires. Police are now looking for witnesses who may have seen something suspicious.
Both sides of the main wooden entrance portal to the church of Sant'Orso were painted with female faces in the Japanese comic style during the night of May 16th to 17th. The vandals also painted the letters A and T next to the faces. Police are reviewing CCTV footage.
On May 7th, an unknown buyer purchased "nine real Catholic hosts, consecrated by a priest” from a Germany-based Etsy seller for $11.58. The seller, who called himself “AL” and his business “Pentagora,” said the hosts were “to abuse for classic black fairs or black magic purposes.” In response to a petition with over 10,000 signatures demanding the online marketplace ban the sales of consecrated hosts, the company admitted that such a sale was in violation of their policies.
The Dublin-based Iona Institute for Religion and Society launched a pro-life ad campaign during the week of May 7th, which included billboard signs depicting an unborn child in the womb. Iona extended that campaign to Facebook and paid a promotion fee to bring it to a wider audience. Facebook blurred the image in the ads behind a warning and said that the image comes under the heading of “graphic” or “violent” content. UPDATE: On May 20th, Facebook reversed the decision, saying it was mistakenly categorized as "sensitive content."
For what was is described as the "umpteenth" time, the walls of the medieval Rupe quarter and the facade of its church, San Giovenale, were vandalized with graffiti which included "blasphemous phrases." Police began an investigation and specialized cleaning teams will be hired to remove the paint.
During the night of May 12th, intruders entered the church of Sainte-Famille in Villeurbanne (Rhône) and damaged the holy water stoup, candles, and left trash. The city's urban safety brigade is investigating.
Three metal, meter-high, statues of Christian figures were stolen off their granite pedestals in a family plot in the cemetery of Argenton-les-Vallées (Deux-Sèvres). Police are investigating.
As a result of a forensic investigation into the origin of a fire that broke out around 6 am on May 5th in the sacristy of the church of Equihen-Plage, a man was arrested on May 9th and sentenced to four and a half years in prison (18 months suspended sentence and three years on probation). The 34-year-old confessed to having set the fire as well as having robbed churches in La Capelle-lès-Boulogne, Wimille, and attempting to rob a church in Boulogne. He said he also had tried to set those churches on fire, but without success. The damage to the Equihen-Plage was extensive, estimated at around 340,000 euros.
In the latest in a series of vandalism incidents at the St John the Evangelist church in Copthorne, the Victorian gate memorial to World War I veterans in the churchyard was kicked in and broken. The Churchwarden reported that this was the latest in a string of incidents at the village church. Police are investigating.
During the afternoon of May 7th, the priest of a Hofheim church caught a man trying to break into the donation box with a tool. The man fled the scene on bicycle. Later, during the night between May 7th and 8th, intruders entered a church in Raunheim (about 65 km away from Hofheim) through a broken basement window. Although it appeared that nothing was stolen, they damaged the locked entrance door as they left.
The parish priest of the church of Saint-Germain-des-Près discovered that a gilded metal cross, bronze candlestick, and a candle had been stolen from the church altar by two intruders. The thieves were able to enter the church between 2:10 and 2:30 a.m. without forcing the doors due to construction scaffolding on the building. Police are searching for the two perpetrators filmed by the security cameras.
On May 8th, parishioners at the church of Saint-Martin d'Asson (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) discovered that a crucifix had been dismantled, and the Christ figure it supported broken in two pieces and left on both sides of the altar. A complaint was filed and police began an investigation.
The church of Saint-Genest was vandalized on the afternoon of May 6th, with the Easter candle and other candles dedicated to the Virgin Mary burnt, the organ's power supply damaged, and trash was found. According to reports, this is the second instance of vandalism that the village church in ten days. Police began an investigation.
Freiburg police are investigating a series of thefts from Catholic churches in Rheinfelden-Nollingen, Schwörstadt, and Bad Säckingen from mid-April to the beginning of May. Offering boxes were pried open and the contents stolen in each of the churches, with the Nollingen church hit twice by thieves.
During the period from May 4th to 6th, unknown perpetrators broke the lock at the Herz-Jesu-Kirche in Winnweiler (Rhineland-Palatinate), lit a small campfire on the sandy ground outside the church, and defaced a wall with graffiti. A lightning rod was torn from the wall and the outer facade of the church was damaged. The police in Rockenhausen are investigating.
Unknown perpetrators smeared "several numbers, characters and figures in different colors" on the outer wall of the Evangelical Lutheran City Church in Rudolstadt. Police began an investigation.