Extremists: France’s Many Burning Churches

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Extremists: France’s Many Burning Churches

The fire that burned Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral horrified the world, but many other deliberate blazes and acts of vandalism targeting French churches go unnoticed, says Nina Shea at The National Catholic Register.

Vandals have smashed statues, knocked down tabernacles, scattered or destroyed the Eucharist and torn down crosses, sparking fears of a rise in anti-Catholic sentiment in the country.

“In February 2019, Notre Dame of Dijon was vandalized, with hosts scattered about,” Ms Shea notes. “At Notre Dame Church in Nimes, a cross was recently drawn on the wall using excrement and consecrated Communion hosts. Notre Dame of France Catholic bookstore was vandalized last September.”

In March last year, the historic Church of St. Sulpice in Paris was set on fire just after midday mass, and at the St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Houilles, in north-central France, a statue of the Virgin Mary was found smashed, and the altar cross had been thrown on the ground.

At Saint-Alain Cathedral in Lavaur, in south-central France, an altar cloth was burned and crosses and statues of saints were smashed. The attack prompted Lavaur Mayor Bernard Canyon to say in a statement: "God will forgive. Not me."

And in the southern city of Nimes, near the Spanish border, vandals looted the altar of the church of Notre-Dame des Enfants (Our Lady of the Children) and smeared a cross with human excrement.

Indeed, according to the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, such attacks in France have been relentless for the past four years.”

Who’s behind this trend? “A variety of extremists enraged by the identities and teachings that the churches symbolize — Christianity, French nationalism and Western civilization at large.”

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