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Religious rights group deplores ‘anti-Christian hostility’ in France

A Church-backed religious rights organisation has warned of growing “anti-Christian hostility” in France, identifying a spate of assaults on churches and Christian monuments.

“France is of particular concern now – while anti-Christian attacks are better documented here than in other European countries, the media pays little attention to them,” said Ellen Fantini, executive director of the Vienna-based Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe, which is linked to the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe.

“While the government recognises Christians and Christian sites are being targeted, they don’t seem high on the agenda when it comes to the political will to provide protection,” Fantini said.

In a 14th February report, the observatory said it had documented numerous incidents in the first 10 days of February, including arson and vandalism against a Catholic cathedral in Lavaur, and attacks on three parish churches in France’s western Vendee region, during which sacred figures were profaned and windows smashed.

The report said St Nicolas de Houilles Church in Yvelines had been desecrated three times, destroying statues of Jesus and Mary, while a tabernacle had been thrown to the ground at the nearby church of St Nicolas de Maisons-Lafitte.

“We join local officials and churches in condemning these senseless and disturbing acts. It is our sincere hope the perpetrators are brought to justice and that awareness of increasing anti-Christian hostility in France reaches the public square,” the report said.

Picture: Worshippers pray inside St Michael Church in Chamonix, France, on 31st August 2018. The Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe in Vienna has warned of growing “anti-Christian hostility” in France after identifying assaults on churches and Christian monuments. (CNS photo/Denis Balibouse, Reuters).