Across Europe, there has been a growing rise in attacks on churches. Countries like France and Germany have seen a spike in violent vandalism, desecrating cherished churches and Christian symbols in recent months and years.
According to the German news site PI-News, every day in France, two churches are desecrated. They report 1,063 attacks on Christian churches or symbols like crucifixes, icons, and statues in France in 2018, marking a 17 percent increase from the year before.
The Middle East Forum reports that attacks on Catholic churches in France since the start of the year have included smashed statues, broken crosses, and demolished tabernacles.
Recently, the historic Church of St. Sulpice in Paris was set on fire after a midday service on Sunday.
March, an illegal Muslim immigrant tried to burn down the organ of the Saint-Denis basilica (another jewel) and destroyed stained glass (https://t.co/vYpFpZtO8K
On Twitter, Notre-Dame was destroyed ! (https://t.co/uhWOsn7DXV)
— Georgeglombardi (@Georgeglombard3) April 16, 2019
It was the second attack in a month after the St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Houilles found their statue of the Virgin Mary destroyed and the altar cross on the ground.
Les actes de profanation et de vandalisme dans les églises sont toujours hautement condamnables. Ils sont le triste reflet d’une civilisation malade qui se laisse emporter dans les filets du mal. Les évêques, les prêtres, les fidèles doivent garder la force et le courage. +RS pic.twitter.com/ePcX5KdKma
— Cardinal R. Sarah (@Card_R_Sarah) February 10, 2019
In February, at Saint-Alain Cathedral in Lavaur, congregants found their altar cloth burned and the church's crosses and statues of saints broken. And in the city of Nimes, individuals vandalized the church of Notre-Dame des Enfants (Our Lady of the Children) and smeared a cross with human excrement according to Newsweek.
L’#église #catholique Notre-Dame des Enfants, quartier des Amoureux à #Nîmes victime de dégradations. Les auteurs ont dessiné sur un mur une croix avec des excréments et des osties volées dans le tabernacle. Une enquête est en cours. pic.twitter.com/YI3eTJvSH4
— Gazette Live Nîmes (@GazettedeNimes) February 7, 2019
In a statement to a local paper, The Tablet, Bishop Robert Wattebled of Nimes said, "This greatly affects our diocesan community. The sign of the cross and the Blessed Sacrament have been the subject of serious injurious actions."
"This act of profanation hurts us all in our deepest convictions," he continued.
Tristesse de la communauté catholique diocésaine et de la paroisse Dijon-Notre-Dame en particulier: profanation de l'église ce matin. Messe de réparation présidée par l'archevêque ce samedi à 17h30. @Lebienpublic @RCFDijon @F3Bourgogne Merci pour vos RT. pic.twitter.com/n9CG2KKtNr
— Diocese de Dijon (@DiocesedeDijon) February 9, 2019
According to The Tablet, a record 47 documented attacks on churches and religious sites were reported in February alone.
"I think there is a rising hostility in France against the church and its symbols," stated Ellen Fantini, executive director of Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe. "It seems to be more against Christianity and the symbols of Christianity."
"These attacks are on symbols that are really sacred to parishioners, to Catholics." she added. "Desecration of consecrated hosts is a very personal attack on Catholicism and Christianity, more than spray-painting a slogan on the outside wall of a church."
The German media reports the growing anti-Christian sentiment is believed to be a result of increased Muslim migration. In 2016, after the arrival of close to a million Muslims in Germany, a local newspaper reported "not a day goes by" that attacks on religious statues did not happen in the town of Dülmen.
And in France studies show the attacks on churches have increased as the number of Muslim migrants has increased. A January 2017 study stated, "Islamist extremist attacks on Christians" in France rose by 38 percent, going from 273 attacks in 2015 to 376 in 2016; the majority occurred during Christmas season and "many of the attacks took place in churches and other places of worship."
In 2016, CBN News reported on three "radicalized" women who were plotting to bomb Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Police found a car loaded with at least six gas canisters near the church. One of the females was found guilty of encouraging other potential jihadists to perform attacks in Syria and France as well.