A French expert on France’s religious heritage is sounding the alarm that “one mosque is erected every 15 days in France, while one Christian building [church or monument] is destroyed at the same pace.”
Edouard de Lamaze, the president of the Observatoire du patrimoine religieux (Observatory of Religious Heritage) in Paris, is warning French media about “the gradual disappearance of religious edifices in a country” which has long been called the “eldest daughter of the Church.”
His warning followed on an April 15 fire (“deemed accidental”) which destroyed the 16th-century Church of Saint-Pierre in Romilly-la-Puthenaye, Normandy, northern France, exactly two years after the fire that ruined much of Paris’ famous Notre Dame Cathedral.
Most of the monuments being destroyed are Catholic. There are around 45,000 Catholic “places of worship” in France, where Catholicism still represents “a large majority.” Lamaze explained his concern in an interview with Catholic News Agency:
“Lamaze told CNA in an interview that in addition to one religious building disappearing every two weeks — by demolition, transformation, destruction by fire, or collapse — two-thirds of fires in religious buildings are due to arson. . .
‘Although Catholic monuments are still ahead, one mosque is erected every 15 days in France, while one Christian building is destroyed at the same pace,’ Lamaze said. ‘It creates a tipping point on the territory that should be taken into account.’
Lamaze believes that on average more than two Christian monuments are targeted every day. Two-thirds of these incidents concern theft, while the remaining third involve desecration.”
Recent figures from the French central criminal intelligence unit states the number of attacks on Catholic “places of worship” in 2018 alone was 877.
“‘These figures have increased fivefold in only 10 years,’ Lamaze said, noting that 129 churches were vandalized in 2008… Currently, 5,000 Catholic buildings are potentially in danger of disappearing.”
Lamaze cited the “deep negligence” of public authorities as responsible for this state of affairs, noting that only 15,000 Catholic sites “are officially protected as historical monuments,” with 30,000 Catholic sites “practically left to decay.”