Nearly 1,000 people, including students, professors and their families, attended a March 18 Mass of Reparation at the chapel of the Complutense University in Madrid.
The massive attendance came in response to an anti-Catholic protest at the chapel. On March 10, nearly 70 students stormed the altar, shouting insults against the Catholic Church. Some were reported to be undressed from the waist up.
At the Mass of Reparation, Auxiliary Bishop Cesar Franco of Madrid defended the right to religious freedom in Spain and stressed that there is a time and a place for debate and dialogue, such as in college classrooms.
Universities are “an appropriate place” for reflection and dialogue on diverse issues, but the acts of “vandalism” which took place in the chapel were “incomprehensible” and “hurtful to religious sensibilities,” he said.
Bishop Franco noted that the small group of student activists that carried out the protest “does not represent the student body at large.” He called for prayer that such incidents would not take place again.
The Mass was “in reparation for the evil committed, through the redemptive action of Christ, who gives Himself for the forgiveness of sins,” he explained. “Our prayer, united to His, becomes an instrument of peace and unity for the world.”
Bishop Franco said he was “profoundly saddened” by the “blasphemies and attacks on the Church and her Magisterium, carried out with gestures and attitudes unworthy of the human person.” The university chapel, he noted, “is a place of worship and prayer that provides students the chance to encounter Christ in the Eucharist and Liturgy of the Church each day.”
Juan Gomez, a student from the Autonomous University of Madrid, attended the Mass to defend religious freedom. “Because of our faith we forgive them. We demand respect and freedom. We demand the power to exercise our rights in freedom.
“The most sacred thing we have is our faith and we will defend it,” he said.