President Rafael Correa of Ecuador has apologized to Archbishop Lorenzo Voltolini of Portoviejo for the profanation of a chapel at the Verdi Cevallos Hospital last Friday.

All of the sacred objects in the chapel, including the tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament reserved, were removed on Aug. 9 to put in hospital beds. 

On Aug. 13, the president called Archbishop Voltolini "to apologize for the incident, especially because the Blessed Sacrament was in the chapel," said Father Manuel Cedeno, a spokesman for the archdiocese.

President Correa "made it clear in his phone call that these kinds of acts are not in keeping with the policies of the Ecuadoran government," Fr. Cedeno told CNA. "This was reiterated by another official from the Ministry of Health."

He said that Archbishop Voltolini will be meeting with hospital administrators and local officials to discuss the future of the archdiocese's ministry at the hospital going forward.

"In the meantime, hospital administrators have said the waiting room can be used by priests to celebrate Mass," Father Cedeno said.

Patients at the hospital, as well as other concerned Catholics, expressed solidarity with the hospital's chaplain, Father Cristian Andrade. 

The priest said that when he arrived at the hospital to visit patients last Friday, he was "surprised to see that they had taken over the chapel," installing beds and removing everything that had been inside, including the ciborium from the tabernacle, which was in a pile with other sacred objects.

Father Andrade said no notice was given that the chapel was going to be cleared out. He added that the consecrated hosts have now been taken to a nearby parish.

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