The Vandalization of Churches in France Reminds Us of the Truth
“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.”
In recent months, Catholic churches throughout France have been hit with a string of attacks including arson, desecration of holy statues, and the destruction of the Holy Eucharist.
Are you surprised? I'm not asking if you’re horrified. Are you surprised?
These acts are not anomalies. They are trends. Symptoms of a rising tide of Anti-Catholicism throughout much of Western civilization.
Just last week, The Church of St. Sulpice in Paris was set ablaze following Sunday Mass. There had reportedly been people inside but they all thankfully escaped. Police, shortly after, declared it to be arson.
In February, a nearly two-century-old statue of the Virgin Mary was destroyed at the St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Houilles, France. The priest there had reported several incidents of vandalism in recent days, including a cross thrown on the floor.
This is all becoming quite commonplace throughout France right now as Saint-Alain Cathedral in Lavaur reported that statues and crosses were destroyed and an altar cloth was burned last month. Vandals even twisted a statue of Christ on a cross to make it appear that like He was “dabbing.” Two teenagers were later arrested for that incident.
Consecrated hosts were tossed around and thrown in the garbage at the Notre-Dame des Enfants church and a cross was drawn on the wall in human excrement. There were other incidents as well.
I can't help but think back to what occurred the years after the French Revolution. France’s churches and religious orders were closed down and religious worship suppressed, violently. The elites embraced Enlightenment thinking which was built supposedly around reason alone as the basis for progress. And when the “reasonable” people consider you unreasonable, violence invariably follows.
They believed their new culture was opposed to the Church and faith so the faith needed to be stamped out. Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, then a bishop, signed on to much of this, along with other clerics. In 1793, public worship was forbidden. All Church property was seized, convents and monasteries suppressed, priests were made to serve as employees of the State. The Blessed Sacrament was desecrated, sacred artwork wrecked, and churches destroyed. More than 200 priests who refused to swear an oath to the state as well as three bishops were executed in Paris in September 1793. Priests and nuns were tied together and drowned in what they called called “Republican Weddings.” Nuns from multiple orders were guillotined.
Are we returning to this? We shall see. In Europe today, we see spikes in Muslim immigration, rampant secular socialism, and the Church abuse scandal all mixing together to make what may very well be a combustible situations. This cultural cocktail has not been seen before so we don't know where this takes us but be assured that the spirit of the revolution is not dead. It lives and it is ugly. That spirit is taking hold, I fear, throughout Europe and the United States.
For years, in this country we've been the target of punch lines, lawsuits, pointed legislation, and silencing. Throughout much of the world, Christians are imprisoned and killed. In the end, this is what Christianity always has been. We are often called to be counter cultural. And there is a consequence for being counter cultural. Ostracization, persecution, and maybe even imprisonment or death. We should pray for our culture but if the culture refuses to change, pray for the strength to stand against it. I fear we will need it.
And we should always remember, Jesus said, “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.”