The press and communications office of the Archdiocese of Piura in northern Peru called for “respect for sacred places” after an unidentified individual stole donations from a poor box in the local cathedral.

“Last weekend this absolutely reprehensible act occurred. As an archdiocese we strongly condemn these types of acts, which demonstrate an absolute lack of respect for sacred places,” said a statement from the archdiocese sent to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner.

The theft took place Sept. 9 at about 3:20 p.m. Security cameras installed inside the church captured the presence of a man who entered the church like any other parishioner, apparently to pray.

However, once inside, the criminal used tools to break into the collection box and then grabbed all the money and put it in his backpack before stealthily leaving the church.

The archdiocesan press office stressed that “the alms that the faithful deposit in this type of box are intended for charitable works of the cathedral, such as helping Venezuelan migrants, people who are hungry, or for those who need urgent medical attention.”

“This theft not only constitutes a serious offense to God, for having been carried out within a sacred place, but also constitutes an absolute lack of charity towards the most needy, who are ultimately the direct beneficiaries,” the archdiocese pointed out.

According to information obtained, this would not be the first incident in which someone posing as a parishioner entered the church for criminal purposes.

The authorities are investigating the incident and working to identify and capture the criminal. In the meantime, the religious community hopes that justice will be served and measures will be taken to prevent future acts of vandalism.

“We as an archdiocese urge that sacred places be respected, we request more charity for the poor, and we ask that the cathedral be notified if someone manages to recognize the individual in question,” the statement said.

More in Americas

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.