Latin American bishops express solidarity with Chile after church burnings

NIX 4712 Assumption parish in Santiago, Chile, Oct. 19, 2020. | Archdiocese of Santiago de Chile.

Following recent attacks on three churches in Chile, the bishops of Paraguay, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, and Argentina expressed their closeness to and support of the Church in Chile.

The Church of the Assumption and Saint Francis Borgia church in Santiago were destroyed by arson Oct. 18. Vandals smashed windows, tagged, and tried to burn down Saint Francis of Assisi Church in La Serena Oct. 19.

The attacks came as demonstrators across the country marked the one-year anniversary of large anti-government protests that took place across Chile last year, and shortly before the Oct. 25 plebiscite on writing a new constitution to replace that written in 1980 under the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

Bishop Adalberto Martínez Flores of Villarrica del Espiritu Santo, president of the Paraguayan bishops' conference, expressed the bishops' "closeness and ecclesial communion" to the Church in Chile.

"The bishops of Paraguay express our solidarity, support and prayer in the face of the aggressive and violent affronts that the Vineyard of the Lord has been subjected to in that part of Chile."

"Every sign of intolerance, disrespect and extreme obfuscation, which threatens the dignity of people and their genuine expressions, reveals the painful distance and cruel folly that evil is capable of generating in the hearts and minds of those who have forgotten God," the bishops said.

"When the world stops recognizing the presence, action and witness of Christ incarnate in his Church, the certainty of the way of the Nazarene becomes more evident for men and women of faith," they added.

In their message of solidarity, the Brazilian bishops' conference prayed that the "God of peace would continue to strengthen the brother bishops and other Chilean Christians in the mission of working together so that social peace may be reestablished."

"In fact, there is no way to accept violence as a solution to a nation's problems Violence dehumanizes, harms people, destroys property and stains history," they said.

The bishops of the Patagonia-Comahue region in Argentina sent a letter expressing their closeness to the bishops of Chile in "these moments of sadness and anguish."

"We unite with the faithful people of God who are certainly suffering from those acts of violence that destroy the values of coexistence, peace and respect, sought and achieved with so much sacrifice, and now violated and placed in crisis," the bishops said.

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