In comments to Catholic News Agency, Bishop Philip Bacarreza Rodriguez of Santa Maria de Los Angeles in Chile explained that the looting and thefts that have occurred following the earthquake on February 27, are "a further demonstration of the people's lack of Christian values,” and absence of faith.
In a telephone conversation with CNA from the Chilean city of Los Angeles, which was also hit by the earthquake, the bishop said, “People are looting the supermarkets in reality because they need to eat ... I can understand that to a certain point. But there have also been acts of vandalism that are truly unacceptable. These people do not steal food, but televisions” and other items having nothing to do with survival.
Bishop Rodriguez went on to denounce "gangs who come to rob the victims. Unfortunately it is a sign of human evil. It is a further demonstration of lack of Christian values, the absence of faith in God."
Speaking later about his own experience of seeing his house “destroyed and rendered uninhabitable," Bishop Bacarreza noted that the Chilean people are in immediate need of "food, supplies, clothing, blankets - these kinds of things." While many people and organizations are sending aid, he added, what is also needed now is detailed organization in order to distribute the supplies.
The Chilean bishop rejected the idea that the earthquake was divine punishment, calling it instead “an opportunity: God corrects his children because he loves them. Sometimes we are so caught up in frivolous things, such as celebrities,” and when “these kinds of events occur, they bring us back to reality.”
The prelate also noted that many churches have suffered damages and cracks to their foundations. We need to “determine whether these cracks are deep or just on the surface. The minor seminary suffered roof damage. That needs to be fixed as soon as possible,” as the rainy season is approaching.
“The cathedral is okay,” he added, although two other churches were damaged, “and many rural chapels were affected, but we don’t have all of the information yet,” the bishop added.
“We must trust in God and help each other,” he stressed, “because Christian charity at this time of trial must be put into action. Everyone who has resources and greater means should help those who have been affected the most.”
“Let us trust in God and that the Virgin Mary, our patroness, will protect us and be with us.”