Several places of worship have undergone significant degradation since Monday, February 4, throughout France.
In Houilles (Yvelines), reported Le Parisien, the Saint-Nicolas church suffered a third act of vandalism in ten days, according to the Paris daily newspaper.
On Wednesday, January 6, the statue of the Virgin and Child was “completely pulverized” , according to the testimony of a priest of the parish. It had adorned the facade of the building since the nineteenth century and is now “irreparable”.
According to the priest, “acts of vandalism have been perpetrated”. He announced that he had lodged a complaint already, ten days ago. “Christ carrying his cross was thrown to the ground in the choir and the seat on which the priest sits was knocked down,” he testified. On Friday, February 1, the vandals returned.
The damage was even worse in Nîmes (Gard). According to Le Parisien, the tabernacle of Notre-Dame des Enfants church was broken and the walls were damaged with mountings crushed on the ground.
Feces was used to draw a cross and were also smeared on the interior walls. No suspect has yet been arrested but an investigation was opened by the prefect of the Gard and entrusted to the police unit charged with departmental security in Nimes.
On Tuesday, February 5 , the cathedral of Lavaur (Tarn) received a hostile visit in the evening. According to La Dépêche, a strong smell of smoke alerted the secretary of the parish of Lavaur, at around 18:00.
When the firefighters arrived, only the altar cloth and the crib had been torched, but a cross was put on the ground and a candle holder broken. The arm of Christ on a cross was twisted off.
The gendarmerie brigade of the city is now in charge of the investigation. The mayor quickly reacted on Twitter: “God will forgive. Not me.”
Hier, une personne a mis le feu à l' autel d' une des chapelles de notre #cathédrale Saint-Alain de @VilledeLavaur et renversé un #Christ .
Dieu pardonnera. Pas moi. #tarn #Occitanie pic.twitter.com/MfY5SEAVPQ
— Bernard Carayon (@BernardCarayon) February 6, 2019
Around the world Christians are facing increasing levels of persecution, especially in Muslim countries. Afghanistan and Pakistan remain countries in the top five places where it is the most difficult to be a Christian, according to research by Christian charity OpenDoors.
The study concluded that some 245 million Christians experience high levels of persecution in 73 countries around the world – up from 215 million in 58 countries last year.
Open Doors UK and Ireland CEO Henrietta Blyth told UK daily The Express: “Our research uncovers a shocking increase in the persecution of Christians globally.
“Worldwide, our data reveals that 13.9 percent more Christians are experiencing high levels of persecution than last year. That’s 30 million more people.”
Christians in Pakistan also face “extreme” levels of persecution, the research found, as those practising the faith are seen as “unclean”.
In Afghanistan, ranked as the second most persecuted country after North Korea, those who are discovered to be practising Christianity face being sent to mental hospitals even by close family members, because of the belief that no sane person would leave Islam, according to OpenDoors.