Churches, particularly in Italy and Europe, are packed with valuable works of art that thieves can carry away with greater ease when a church is practically abandoned or when the priest and local people have no idea of the objects' value, said the Vatican's police chief.http://www.catholicnews.com/data/storie ... 204693.htm
Humanity's spiritual thirst and desire to praise God "have given life to works of inestimable value and to a religious patrimony that gives rise to greed and the interest of art traffickers," Domenico Giani, the head of the Vatican police, told members of Interpol.
Giani spoke Nov. 7 in Rome at the general assembly of Interpol, the international police organization that coordinates crime fighting and crime prevention around the world.
Many of the religious artworks created by and for Catholics, Giani said, are difficult to protect because they often are in isolated church buildings where no anti-theft measures are employed, or in churches that basically are abandoned because religious practice has fallen so steeply.
In addition, he said, "in countries where revolts are under way or there are internal struggles fed by a hatred so strong that people try to destroy anything that represents 'the enemy,'" the conditions are ripe for the theft of religious art and its permanent loss.