Police figures disseminated by The Sun UK—only a week before the tragic fire at the 850-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral—show that France alone saw 875 of 42,285 of its churches vandalized or otherwise desecrated in 2018. Additionally, 129 churches claimed that they had experienced theft, and France’s interior ministry has claimed that 59 cemeteries have been vandalized.

While 2.1% of all churches being vandalized is bad enough, these figures are on the low side, given recent history. The previous year, 2017, 1,075 acts of vandalism of churches and 109 thefts in churches were committed across France.

“Every day, at least two churches are profaned,” Republican MP Valerie Boyer told the Sun. However, despite the frequency of church vandalism across Europe, coverage is often scarce.

“Following the fire at Saint-Sulpice, which cops say was started deliberately, the leader of the Republicans Laurent Wauquiez said the media had failed to give the issue more prominence,” The Sun UK reported.

As the German-based PI-News reported in March:

Hardly anyone writes and speaks about the increasing attacks on Christian symbols. There is silence in both France and Germany about the scandal of the desecrations and the origin of the perpetrators. Not a word, not even the slightest hint that could in anyway lead to the suspicion of migrants. It is not the perpetrators who are in danger of being ostracized, but those who dare to associate the desecration of Christian symbols with immigrant imports. They are accused of hatred, hate speech and racism.

The onslaught of vandalism in France has reached a level which can be accurately described as constant, occurring every day in varying degrees of severity. Below are just some of acts of vandalism Raymond Ibrahim of the Gatestone Institute has compiled between February and March of this year:

  • Vandals plundered Notre-Dame des Enfants Church in Nîmes and used human excrement to draw a cross there; consecrated bread was found thrown outside among garbage.
  • The Saint-Nicolas Church in Houilles was vandalized on three separate occasions in February; a 19th century statue of the Virgin Mary, regarded as “irreparable,” was “completely pulverized,” said a clergyman; and a hanging cross was thrown to the floor.
  • Vandals desecrated and smashed crosses and statues at Saint-Alain Cathedral in Lavaur, and mangled the arms of a statue of a crucified Christ in a mocking manner. In addition, an altar cloth was burned.
  • Arsonists torched the Church of St. Sulpice in Paris soon after midday mass on Sunday, March 17.

Germany has seen its own rise in church vandalisms. Between early April and May of this year, at least eight Christian churches have been vandalized according to Simon Caldwall of Crux and the Catholic News Service. 

“In early May, vandals defaced a wall of the Herz-Jesu Catholic church in Winnweiler with graffiti; the Evangelical Lutheran City Church in Rudolstadt was daubed with paint, and a paving stone was thrown through the window of a chapel in in Morbach-Hoxel, causing 2000 euros (US$2,200) of damage,” Caldwall reports. “At least nine windows were smashed at a church in Wilhelmshaven, a fire was started at a church in Nienborg, and terror threats were made against churches marking the Armenian genocide in Stuttgart and Frankfurt, causing the events to be canceled.”

However, while some church vandals follow a hit-and-run method of attack, many churches and clergy are facing constant, ongoing damages and harassment.

“The Protestant Church in Dierdorf im Westerwald has been a target for vandalism for nearly two years,” the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe stated. “Reports beginning in July 2017 indicate that vandals have smashed windows, burned feminine hygiene products stuck to a wall to damage wall plaster, left graffiti on the walls and doors, knocked over park benches, and littered the area around the church every week. Property damage has reached tens of thousands of euros. The congregation is frustrated and horrified.”