The director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi, denounced the violence that characterized the recent Occupy Wall Street-inspired protests in Rome. During the event, a large crucifix and a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes were destroyed.
“The violence that took place yesterday in Rome is unacceptable and unjustifiable,” Fr. Lombardi said on Oct. 16. “We condemn all violence, as well as violence against religious symbols.”
Organizers planned to march from a square near the city's central train station, past the Coliseum to the Basilica of St. John Lateran. However, shortly into the protest, groups of young people began looting stores, setting cars on fire and clashing with police.
The weekend protests were meant to coincide with similar demonstrations in Barcelona, New York and Sydney in solidarity with the “indignado” movement in Spain and the Occupy Wall Street protests in the U.S.
Protestors in Rome destroyed a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and a large cross at the Parish of Sts. Marcelino and Peter.
On Oct. 18 the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano published a statement by the president of the Italian bishops’ conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco. “We cannot help but express our total rejection of the violence organized by criminals who disturbed the many who attempted to peacefully express their concerns,” he said.
The Pope’s vicar for the Diocese of Rome, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, added, “(t)he gratuitous violence that has profaned sacred images, the attacks on persons and the destruction of property cannot be justified in any way.”
“Rome, a hospitable city that each day welcomes thousands of pilgrims and tourists, has now been wounded.”
During his homily at the Cathedral of Milan on Sunday, Cardinal Angelo Scola said, “The destructions of the statue of Mary and the profanation of the crucifix deeply offend us. But besides offending us, the episode … fills us with great sorrow because it is an expression of grave violence to common sense.”
He urged Romans to respond to the violence with peace and justice.