French police reported 129 thefts and 877 acts of vandalism in Christian spaces in 2018, but neither the church nor French media are calling attention to the widespread incidents, reported RealClearInvestigations Wednesday.
“The trend of increased attacks on French churches has been mostly ignored,” Ellen Fantini of the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe told the Daily Caller in April. “And when attacks are reported, they are often described in a way that downplays or ignores the nature of the attacks.”
The 2018 numbers tell just part of the story. The French Ministry of the Interior said attacks on Christian sites have quadrupled between 2008 and 2019, according to RealClear.
These attacks include urination in baptismal fonts, the desecration of Catholic cemeteries and destroying centuries-old art. Some say they point to growing “Christianophobia” and cite the extreme examples of a suspected Islamic extremist opening fire at a crowded Christmas market in Strasbourg, France, in December and the 2016 murder of priest Jacques Hamel.
What cultural shifts are leading vandals to commit crimes like setting fire to the door of Saint-Sulpice, the second-largest church in Paris? Experts interviewed by RealClear gave explanations that ran the gamut: They placed blame on a lack of respect for religion rather than Christianity in particular, the fact that these Catholic sites are unguarded and therefore ripe for mischief, and growing anti-Christian sentiment in the country fueled by clergy sexual abuse.
Many members of the church who are most affected do not want media outcry.
“We do not want to develop a discourse of persecution,” Archbishop Georges Pontier, head of the French Bishops Conference, told Le Point according to a translation included in RealClear. “We do not wish to complain.”
Media and government may not call attention to the attacks to avoid provoking anti-Islamic sentiment, although evidence shows Muslims are behind a “small fraction” of anti-Christian crimes, according to RealClear.
Many perpetrators are never caught, but French press reports indicate roughly 60 percent of those apprehended are youths, according to RealClear.
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