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Germany and Austria: thefts and vandalism making a comeback in churches and places of worship

A number of thefts and acts of vandalism all through the last year showed that crimes against churches and places of worship have made a comeback as much in Germany as in Austria: the last two crimes have been committed by gangs of young people. In Cologne, on August 25th three Belgian young men aged 16 to 24 attacked the southern façade of the Cathedral, climbing up its walls by clinging to its pinnacles and Gothic spikes, then ripped several glazed panels with lead frames out of a window: in addition, as revealed by the spokesman of Cologne Cathedral, Markus Frädrich, that was a “window of poor historical value”, and the cost for the restoration and reinstatement of the window will exceed the value of the stolen materials. The problem, Frädrich said, is the strong risk of copycat criminals who will not consider that “climbing up the Cathedral is no mean feat”. One month ago, Cologne Cathedral had been the victim of another attempted theft, aiming to steal electronic materials from the belfry. Terrible images come instead from the parish church of Wieselburg (diocese of St. Pölten, Austria), attacked on August 22nd by a the Tabernacle desecrated, the donation box looted, the Sigil of Baphomet drawn in sand on the floor, and a tapestry from the altar soiled with faeces. The overall damage amounts to several thousands of euros, but the greatest damage, in these cases, as pointed out by the police, is the climate of fear and sadness that the devotees are made to feel.

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