In 2019, one third of all the EU’s anti-Christian attacks – 1,052 out of 3,000 – took place in France, and the number of anti-Christian atrocities has increased tenfold between 2008 and 2019.
Commenting on the interior ministry’s latest report on anti-religious violence, Marine Le Pen said that “France is currently characterised by an anti-Christian sentiment.” According to the document, France witnessed a total of 1893 hate crimes in 2019 alone, with the distribution of crimes being uneven between the Churches. Christian Churches have suffered 1052 attacks, followed by Judaism with 687 attacks and Islam with 154 atrocities. The European Conservative news site reports that 60 per cent of the attacks can be attributed to far-left, Neo-Nazi and satanist groups, with the remaining 40 per cent committed by radical Islamists.
The Observatory for Religious Heritage focuses on drawing attention to the rapid destruction of invaluable cultural and architectural heritage. The panel concludes that based on current trends, one-third of the buildings in France, the country with the second highest number of churches in Europe, are in danger.
The situation of the French Catholic Church was analysed in detail by Edouard de Lamaze last year after the blaze at the Nantes cathedral. The president of the Observatory of Religious Heritage has raised the alarm, saying “our religious heritage is at risk”.
France is home to 72 thousand churches, 95 per cent of which are Catholic, but only 41 thousand buildings are regularly used. It is estimated that about 30,000 French churches and chapels are left to decay or are in a bad state of neglect. Local communities responsible for their maintenance lack the resources to finance restorations. In a bid to counterbalance the lack of funds, an annual amount of 100 million euros have been allocated from the central budget for the renovation and maintenance of churches, but the sum proved to be too little to prevent the physical deterioration and eventual disappearance of buildings.
“There are five thousand churches and cathedrals in the country that could be lost in the near future. However, this number only includes places of worship that the Church is struggling to maintain. There are far more, approximately 30 thousand, church buildings that the state is failing to protect as historical monuments. These edifices are in a deteriorating condition,” Lamaze explained.
The Catholic church sells around 40 to 50 churches a year in areas where the local community can no longer afford to maintain them or the number of believers has seen such a sharp drop that there is no point in delivering religious services. Consequently, urban and rural landscapes are undergoing a permanent transformation because while Christian churches are vanishing, the number of mosques appears to be proliferating.