Churches and chapels are supposed to be places of rest and peace. In Bavaria, however, they are increasingly becoming the target of destructive attacks, as figures from the State Criminal Police Office show.
Burning hymn books, damaged organ pipes, overturned candles, an altar on fire: places of worship in Bavaria are becoming the target of vandalism with increasing frequency.
The Bavarian State Criminal Police Office (LKA) registered 294 cases of damage to property in churches, chapels or monasteries last year – 23 more than in 2021 (271). According to the information, the trend has been clearly increasing in recent years. In 2019, the LKA still counted 219 cases, and the following year it was 242.
“Basically, we are finding that the numbers, especially in the area of vandalism, have increased and the destructiveness is much more massive,” says a spokesman for the Catholic diocese of Regensburg. “For example, figures of saints were destroyed or damaged, people smoked and urinated in church rooms, church walls were smeared or fires were set inside the church.”
altar on fire
Some examples from all over Bavaria: In November last year in Augsburg, graffiti with the devilish sequence of numbers “666” and “FCK Jesus” on the outside wall of the parish church of St. Peter and Paul was used as an opportunity to create an art installation.
In February of this year, several hymn books burned in the Catholic parish church of St. Heinrich in Munich. The church room was devastated, the police said. Candles had been tossed, hymnals strewn across the floor. Someone had urinated on a “praise to God”. Property damage in the amount of several hundred euros.
In May 2022, in a church in Spalt in the Middle Franconian district of Roth, the entire altar was on fire. The criminal police took up investigations against a young person because of particularly serious arson. In Ober Schneiding in Lower Bavaria, two girls who were only twelve years old at the time of the crime are said to have damaged organ pipes.
40,000 euros property damage
Also in the Catholic diocese of Eichstätt, a disinfectant dispenser burned in a church in Neunstetten in October.
The damage in July 2022 in the “Maria Hilf” pilgrimage church in Seubersdorf (Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz district) was far greater. There, burglars stole 30 organ pipes and 16 gold-plated candlesticks. Damage: around 24,000 euros. However, the material damage caused when the burglars broke open the doors and ripped out the organ pipes was even greater: 40,000 euros.
According to the LKA, the number of thefts from churches, chapels and monasteries has fallen significantly in Bavaria over the past five years – from 807 cases in 2018 to 398 in 2022.
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