Church fire in France raises alarms about intolerance toward Christians

In the wake of another destructive fire at a cathedral in France, a watchdog group is sounding the alarm on the rise of anti-Christian acts in the country.

A fire last week inside the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral in Nantes is yet another sign to French Catholics that their religion is in danger. A volunteer who worked at the cathedral confessed on July 26 to setting the fire that damaged stained-glass windows of the historic Gothic church.

The fire came only 15 months after an accidental blaze destroyed the vault and spire of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris during Holy Week. The Nantes Cathedral fire was not nearly as destructive as the Notre Dame fire, however.

While Catholics make up 41% of the French population, the number of practicing faithful may be as low as 5%.

Attacks on the rise

And attacks on Christians have been on the rise in recent years.

A Vienna-based watchdog group, The Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, told The Christian Post that anti-Christian acts in France have risen from 275 reported in 2008 to a little over 1,000 per year in 2018 and 2019.

According to data released annually by the French Ministry of the Interior, there were 1,052 anti-Christian hate crimes in France in 2019, which is almost twice the number of cases of anti-Semitism and 10 times the number of anti-Muslim acts. (RNS, TAB)

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