The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France, 2014. The communications coordinator of the Diocese of Annecy says the theft are not acts of voluntary profanation. CNS/Paul Haring

Thieves desecrate eleven parishes in France

By  Catholic News Agency
  • November 10, 2017
ANNECY, France – Last month thieves in France robbed, and in the process desecrated, ten churches in the Diocese of Annecy, in the country's Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region.

A similar incident also occurred in the Diocese of Vannes, in Brittany.

Local press reported that the churches in the Annecy diocese were broken into Oct. 28-29. The perpetrators are believed to be two men who forced open the church doors with a crow bar.

In Sainte Marie Madeleine de Morzine parish, the criminals broke open and desecrated two marble tabernacles. In the other churches the robbers stole the poor boxes, ciboria, and chalices.

Bernard Bidaut, communications director for the Diocese of Annecy, told ACI Prensa, “we are careful about our statements. These are not acts of voluntary profanation.”

At the same time, he said, “they are for us because this is the theft of important liturgical objects (some with consecrated Hosts), but it's clear this is a classic case of stealing in order to resell the objects.”

Bidaut also indicated “the investigation is ongoing.”

Fr. Nicholas Owona, a priest of the Annecy diocese, told France 3 that “breaking into the tabernacles is offensive ” and that the faithful “are scandalized” by what happened.

France 3 reported that since 2015 church desecrations in the region have been on the rise.

Meanwhile, in the town of Plouay, 40 miles northwest of Vannes, intruders in Saint Ouen parish tore off the arm of a statue of the Madonna and Child and removed the altar stone.

The local police are looking for those responsible. The Observatory of Christianophobia, a French website that tracks such incidents, indicated this same church was the victim of attacks in 2013 and 2014.

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