Nearly 1,000 hate crimes against Europe’s Christians recorded in 2020
The aftermath of a fire at the Parish of St. Paul in Corbeil-Essonnes, France, July 4, 2020. OIDACE
By Courtney Mares
Catholic News Agency
November 17, 2021
ROME— According to newly published data from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the number of hate crimes against Christians in Europe rose sharply in 2020.
The OSCE data, published Nov. 16, documented 980 incidents against Christians, including arson attacks on Catholic churches, desecration and robbery of Eucharistic hosts, assaults on priests, and anti-Catholic graffiti on Church property by abortion activists.
The OSCE previously reported 595 incidents against Christians in 2019.
There was a significant increase in the number of attacks against property last year, from 459 in 2019 to 871 in 2020, while the number of violent attacks against people decreased from 80 to 56 in 2020.
Poland had the most hate crimes reported against Christians with 241 incidents in 2020, the majority of which were acts of vandalism against Catholic property connected with the Church’s stance on abortion.
The OSCE also reported 172 incidents in Germany, 159 in France, and 113 in Italy. The Holy See submitted data to the OSCE on more than 150 hate crimes against Christians in Europe.
The organization also released data on hate crimes driven by anti-Semitism, racism, bias based on sexual orientation, and other categories. In total, 7,181 hate crime cases were reported. The information was published to mark the International Day for Tolerance.
The number of hate crimes against Christians is likely higher than what is reported in the data, as only 11 of the 57 OCSE states submitted data on hate crimes against Christians.
Madeleine Enzlberger, head of the Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians (OIDACE) in Vienna, Austria, said that in media and political spheres “hatred of Christians is hardly noticed as an increasingly obvious social problem.”
“The OSCE report reflects only part of this trend, which we have been documenting for years, and yet it is a loud wake-up call against indifference and fashionable Christian-bashing,” she commented.
Here is a breakdown of some of the hate crimes committed against Christians documented by OSCE:
Rampant vandalism in Poland by abortion advocates
The uptick in hate crimes against Christians in Poland is largely due to “a series of incidents targeting the Catholic Church due to its stance on abortion,” according to the OSCE data.
These included more than 100 acts of graffiti on Catholic property in 2020, many of which included anti-Christian slogans. Other Catholic churches were vandalized with LGBTI symbols.
Women’s rights activists vandalized a monument to unborn children at night with black paint in a Polish Catholic cemetery in October 2020.
Abortion activists also vandalized a cross at a cemetery commemorating victims of Nazism in the same month, according to the report.
People praying in front of a Catholic cathedral were assaulted by women’s rights activists, who threw bottles, stones, and firecrackers, injuring several worshippers.
In Spain, a monastery and four other churches were vandalized on International Women’s Day in 2020. At the monastery, a group of women’s rights protesters also disrupted Mass with anti-Christian slogans.
Arson attacks on Catholic churches
There were a number of arson attacks on Catholic churches reported in France, Germany, Spain, and Italy.
In one instance in Germany, disinfectant was poured over pews in a Catholic church and then set on fire.
A Catholic cathedral in France was also vandalized with excrement smeared by perpetrators, who then attempted to set the church on fire in February 2020.
Ten masked individuals targeted another Catholic church in France in an arson attack in October 2020 by pushing a car up to the church and then setting it on fire causing significant damage.
In Switzerland, a Catholic church’s organ loft was set on fire in March 2020.
Hate crimes and social media
Catholic priests in Spain were sent death threats via social media in November 2020. Catholic priests in Poland felt threatened when an image depicting a shot priest was circulated on social media along with anti-Catholic insults.
A man who converted to Christianity in Italy also received death threats via social media in November 2020.
In other cases, the perpetrators shared their hate crimes on social media. Women’s rights activists in Poland filmed themselves throwing eggs at a Catholic church and posted it to social media in October 2020.
Violent attacks against Christians
Despite the lockdown measures that kept many people socially isolated in 2020, there were still reported violent attacks on Christians, albeit fewer than in 2019.
Three people were killed in a knife attack at the Basilica of Notre-Dame in Nice, France in October 2020.
A priest known for his devotion to helping migrants and homeless people was stabbed to death near his parish in the city of Como, Italy by a Tunisian man in September 2020.
In the United Kingdom, a Catholic priest was assaulted by two men in a church in June 2020 and sustained a rib injury. Another Catholic priest in the U.K. was physically assaulted in a cathedral during a funeral in October 2020.
A priest in Spain was hospitalized in September 2020 after he was stabbed in the upper body while in a church, and a Catholic priest in Poland was stabbed several times in the stomach in October 2020.
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