Lima, Peru, Aug 29, 2012 / 10:38 am America/Denver (CNA).
A group of animal rights activists disrupted Mass at the Church of the Miraculous Virgin in Lima, Peru, lobbing insults against the priest who was celebrating and accusing him of “murdering” a cat.
The group of 30 activists gathered outside the church located in the Miraflores neighborhood on Aug. 25 to protest against the pastor, Father Alejandro Berrade.
They claimed the priest refused to allow the rescue of a cat that was supposedly trapped on the roof. Dozens of stray cats are said to congregate in the area surrounding the church.
As the activists entered the parish, Fr. Berrade was forced to suspend Mass and leave the sanctuary while police officers arrived on the scene to keep the group outside.
According to locals, the activists continued their protest in front of the parish rectory into the early morning hours, continuously shouting and banging on the rectory door.
The parish sacristan told CNA that he climbed up to the roof of the church and saw no sign of the cat.
He said more than 100 stray cats congregate in the neighborhood's Kennedy Park and have turned the area into a “public latrine” that poses “a true health problem.”
He noted that nearby residents have repeatedly demanded that steps be taken to remove the cats.
“In the summer the stench is unbearable, and people who have paid a lot of money to hold their wedding receptions have to deal with the smell, which is worse because of the heat,” the sacristan said.
During Mass on Sunday, Aug. 26, Fr. Berrade dismissed the accusations by the animal rights activists.
“Never in my life have I killed a cat,” he said. “If they said falsehoods against Christ, we also should expect that they slander his disciples.”