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.”
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.
During the night between May 4th and 5th, vandals ransacked the church of San Girolamo in Narni. On Sunday morning the 5th, the priest discovered that statues, benches, and kneelers had been overturned and damaged. Wires were torn from the sound system, furnishings in the sacristy and other rooms were destroyed, and sacred books had been thrown to the ground. As a result of the extensive damage, Mass had to be cancelled. A complaint was filed with the police.
Graffiti with the phrase "Allah u Akbar" and a heart was found written on the door of the Notre-Dame-du-Taur church in Toulouse during the evening of May 5th.
During the night from May 4th to 5th, unidentified vandals smashed a stained glass window in the chapel in Morbach-Hoxel with a paving stone. Property damage is estimated to be around 2000 euros.
Sometime between May 3rd and 4th, the intricately carved wooden cross was stolen from the altar of the Peter-Paul-Kirche in Bad Oldesloe. Pastor Diethelm Schark said to enter the sanctuary to steal the wooden cross broke a major taboo and said he hoped the cross would be found and returned.
On May 3rd, a priest discovered a destroyed and trampled cross in the porch of the entrance to the church of Saint John the Evangelist in Kwidzyn, as well as a strong smelling liquid poured into the holy water font. Because the incident occurred on the Catholic feast of the Queen of Poland and Poland's Constitution Day holiday, there were many visitors and tourists around the cathedral, making it difficult to identify the perpetrators, according to the priest. The area was not covered by the security cameras in the church.
The church of Saint-Germain in Brion-prés-Thouet held a reparation Mass on May 4th after consecrated hosts in a chalice were stolen a few days earlier.
Police investigated the theft of an offertory box from a church in Wiehe (Thüringen). On May 2nd, church staff discovered that the donation box had been forcibly torn from the wall. It was later found at a bus stop. A small amount of cash was stolen, but the incident caused property damage of about 100 euros.