Two churches in Chile struck by arson

St. Alberto Hurtado Chapel in the Archdiocese of Concepción and St. Joseph Church of the Diocese of Linares were set on fire over the weekend. Both churches are located in central Chile. 

According to a Facebook post by the Archdiocese of Concepción, the fire in the chapel was started around midnight on Sunday, Oct. 1, and the building “was completely destroyed due to arson.” The chapel was part of St. Joseph Parish in the town of Curanilahue and served a community of about 50 faithful.

The archdiocese said the auxiliary bishop and pastor of St. Joseph Church in Curanilahue, Oscar García, “immediately arrived at the scene to accompany the community in this difficult moment and encouraged them to keep hope alive, not give up, and have faith, rising above the pain that the burning of the infrastructure brings with it.”

The presidential delegate in the Biobío Region, Daniela Dresdner, told the local press Oct. 2 that a bottle with flammable liquid had been found in the chapel. “This was a fire involving third parties,” she stated, adding that an investigation is underway to find those responsible.

Bishop Tomislav Koljatic of the Diocese of Linares in a statement posted on the diocesan website expressed his “profound pain at the arson attack suffered at St. Joseph Parish in [the city of] Constitución.”

According to the text, the fire occurred the morning of Oct. 1 and “damaged part of the altar, chancel chairs, and some articles used in worship.”

“Thanks to God, and to the timely response to the fire by parishioners and city firefighters, there are no victims or serious damage to regret. All the information has been placed in the hands of the police, who we hope will soon issue an official report,” the statement added.

The diocese stressed that events like this “attack freedom of worship, a fundamental right that must be protected.”

“We unite our prayer, accompaniment, and closeness to Father Gonzalo Aravena, the pastor of St. Joseph’s, and to the entire Christian community of Constitución,” the text concludes.

The Carabineros (Chilean national police) reported Oct. 3 that they had arrested a man suspected of starting the fire. According to a post on X by TVContivision, after he was arrested, the man, who had no prior record, confessed to the crime.

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

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