Romanian Orthodox parishioners woke up to find their church door locked with chains and a padlock on Sunday, in what they are considering an act of "vandalism".

The "vandals" repeatedly wrapped a chain around the iron knobs on the front door of the church of St Roque's, in Valletta, and locked the chain with a padlock.

"They did this to prevent us from entering our church," Romanian Orthodox community president Fr George-Alexandru Popescu told Times of Malta a few hours after the discovery.

"I, initially thought maybe someone from our parish or from St Paul's parish might have decided to lock the door like that. So I contacted them. But nobody we know did so, so it must be another act of vandalism."

The police are investigating.

The incident follows another vandalism act on the same church last November, when vandals poured oil and gasoline on the parvis. That incident had also happened overnight on a Sunday.

Back then, Popescu told Times of Malta the incident was isolated and he had no idea who might be behind it, as the community has good relations with society and lived in harmony with other religions.

The police had looked at nearby CCTV cameras but the case remained unsolved and no suspect was identified.

Popescu, who was appointed chair of the Christians Together in Malta foundation last March, maintains that, to this day, he still has no reason to suspect anyone, but plans to install CCTV cameras in the coming weeks.

"There was a first message and second one. Who knows what the third message will be and when it will come? We are concerned," he said.

The church of St Roque's is one of Valletta's Roman Catholic churches and falls under St Paul's parish, but the Curia has conceded it to the Romanian Orthodox community for 25 years, allowing alterations to make it suitable for the rites and rituals of the community.

An estimated 2,500 EU nationals form part of this community in Malta.

The chain and padlock, discovered at around 8.30am, were removed from the door with a crowbar by a parishioner later on Sunday.

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