If you turned on any U.S. or international news networks covering or discussing the Notre Dame Cathedral fire on Monday, the first day of Holy Week, you undoubtedly heard narratives on the cause of the blaze that were quickly and keenly focused on a construction-related accident.
The Paris prosecutors’ office, for example, within mere hours of the blaze and before the fire was even contained, ruled out arson and possible terror-related motives, and said it was treating it as an accident, ABC News reports. Interesting.
Even more interesting is that French news agency France 24 made no mention of the fact that the Notre Dame fire follows a rash of attacks on churches throughout France in recent months — one of which was an arson fire at St. Sulpice Church in Paris.
St. Sulpice is the second-largest church in Paris, after Notre Dame Cathedral. An unknown arsonist(s) set on fire to its large wooden door on its southern transept on March 17.
THE SAINT SULPICE IN PARIS JUST IGNITED WHILE I WAS INSIDE pic.twitter.com/40PHCZ177w
— lil g (@lili_gasparr) March 17, 2019
According to an article in Le Parisien, “It was the spectators who heard the flames crackling that gave the alert,” said Karen Taieb, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of heritage. The day after the fire, investigators reported that the fire was “human” and “deliberate.”
For the police, no possible doubt: the fire that damaged the entrance to the Saint-Sulpice church (VI e ) Sunday afternoon did nothing accidental. “The fire is from a pile of clothes and clothes do not ignite by themselves,” says a police source. …
The investigation remains in the hands of the police of the VI th district and has not been entrusted to the judicial police.
St. Sulpice was just one of at least 10 churches that have been hit since the beginning of February, Crux news reports. Some churches were set on fire while others were severely desecrated or damaged.
In Auray in early March, Saint-Gildas church was repeatedly vandalized. March 4, Le Telegramme reported the arrest of two young women who were seen running out of the church after it was set afire in several locations.
Vandals targeted the 800-year-old Basilica of Saint-Denis during the first week of March. They smashed stained glass windows and severely damaged a 200-year-old organ, Le Parisien reports.
On Feb. 10 in the late afternoon, Maisons-Laffitte, the tabernacle of the Church of St. Nicholas (Yvelines) was severely vandalized, Le Parisien reported.
On the morning of Saturday, Feb. 9, around 7:30 a.m., shortly after the opening of the Dijon of Notre-Dame church, “an individual entered the building, committed degradations in the choir of the church before opening the tabernacle and spreading hosts on the master-autel,” a statement from the diocese reported.
What is a “host”? Religion News explains:
According to Catholic doctrine, hosts of unleavened bread literally become the body of Jesus himself at the Mass. Consecrated but unused hosts are stored for future use, so breaking into the tabernacle holding them and scattering them on the floor ranks among the highest of sacrileges.
“When somebody tramples on a host, it’s as if the whole church is being stomped on,” Catholic historian François Huguenin said.
In the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 6, degradations were observed at Notre-Dame-des-Enfants church in Nîmes (Gard), Le Parisien reports. The tabernacle was broken, hosts thrown on the walls and on the ground, various degraded religious objects and excrement thrown on the interior walls of the building.
Intruders even drew a cross on a wall with excrement then stuck consecrated hosts to it, Crux reports.
Bishop Robert Wattebled of Nimes issued a statement on Feb. 8 declaring that the desecration was so severe that the church building could not be used until penitential rites of purification had been carried out.
In Lavaur, in the Tarn, on the night of Feb. 5, vandals struck Saint-Alain Cathedral. A tablecloth and the crib were burned, and the arm of a Christ on the cross has been twisted into make believe in a “dab” (gesture of celebration with the arms), Le Parisien reports.
Statues of saints were broken and an altar cloth was set on fire, Crux reports.
According to La Dépêche du Midi, two 17-year-old teenagers admitted to being the perpetrators of the degradations. They were summoned before a children’s judge on March 15.
On Feb 5, Le Parisien reported that Saint-Nicolas de Houilles church (Yvelines) was damaged for the third time in 10 days.
Intruders threw the altar cross to the floor and “completely pulverized” a statue of the Madonna and Child dating from the 19th century, which was renovated three years ago, Father Heart told the newspaper. “It is irreparable,” he said to his parish.
French media reported a 35-year-old man has confessed to police to carrying out the attack, but mystery still surrounds the identities of other culprits, Crux reports.
In total, during February alone, there was a record 47 documented attacks on churches and religious sites, meaning that countless cases are going largely unreported.
“Who has heard of the sacking of the monastery of Saint Jean des Balmes in Aveyron? Of those teenagers who urinated into the holy water font of the church at Villeneuve de Berg in Ardèche?” Le Figaro asked in an article in late February that highlighted some of the lesser-known profanations around France.
The Vienna-based Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, an independent organization founded with the help of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE), documents reports of attacks and vandalism to churches throughout Europe. Their list is quite extensive and can be viewed here.
Newsweek: [CCEE] executive director, Ellen Fantini, told Newsweek that while in many cases the motive for the attacks was not known, France faced growing problems with anti-Christian violence, especially by anarchist and feminist groups.
“I think there is a rising hostility in France against the church and its symbols,” but “it seems to be more against Christianity and the symbols of Christianity.
“These attacks are on symbols that are really sacred to parishioners, to Catholics. Desecration of consecrated hosts is a very personal attack on Catholicism and Christianity, more than spray-painting a slogan on the outside wall of a church.” …
“The pressure is coming from the radical secularists or anti-religion groups as well as feminist activists who tend to target churches as a symbol of the patriarchy that needs to be dismantled,” she added.
Anti-religion groups? Anarchists? Radicalized feminists? Really? Are these code words for discordian satanists?
Who do you think is responsible? And could it be tied to the Notre Dame Cathedral fire, or is this all just some big cowinkydink? You decide.