According to newly published data from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the number of hate crimes against Christians in Europe rose sharply in 2020.
The OSCE data, published November 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.
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.
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.
Only 11 of the 57 OCSE states submitted data on hate crimes against Christians, possibly indicating that the figures are higher than those reported.
Here is a breakdown of some of the hate crimes committed against Christians documented by OSCE:
Vandalism on Catholic property
There were more than 100 acts of graffiti on Catholic property in Poland in 2020, many of which included anti-Christian slogans. Other Catholic churches were vandalised with LGBTI symbols.
Women’s rights activists vandalised a monument to unborn children at night with black paint in a Polish Catholic cemetery in October 2020.
Abortion activists also vandalised 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 vandalised 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
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 vandalised 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
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.
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.