Several churches have been subjected to violent attacks in recent days in Venezuela, including one in which a tabernacle was destroyed and hosts thrown to the ground, the country’s bishops have said.
Msgr. Victor Hugo Basabe, undersecretary of the Episcopal Conference of Venezuela, told reporters March 10th that “some churches that are located in places where the conflict was high, were attacked by violent groups”, even “during Mass”.
He mentioned in particular the church of Santa Barbara in Mérida, broken into as Mass was being celebrated. He also said that police attacked a priest, Father José Palmar, during a march in Maracaibo, on February 19th.
Msgr. Rafael Conde, bishop of the diocese of Maracay, denounced in a statement sent to Fides the sacrilegious acts and vandalism that occurred in the parish of Our Lady of La Candelaria in la Otra Banda de La Victoria, in the municipality of Ribas, in the state of Aragua, where the tabernacle was destroyed, consecrated hosts were thrown to the ground, the stereo system of the church was stolen and the niche of the crucified Christ was damaged.
Msgr. Conde also reported another act of vandalism which took place in the parish of La Candelaria in Maracay. “Insecurity affects us all”, he said.
Fides reports that another victim of the violence, a 24-year-old student in Tachira, was killed yesterday.
Student-led protests in various Venezuelan cities have been continuing for a month. The protesters have had enough of shortages of some basic items, inflation running at 56 percent last year and soaring violent crime.
President Nicolas Maduro has argued the political opposition is attempting to overthrow his democratically elected government. He has convened a third “dialogue of Peace” but the opposition does not want to participate.
At least 22 people have died in street protests, according to the government.
The Secretary General of OAS (Organization of American States), José Miguel Insulza, told the international press March 10th that the Catholic Church could mediate in bringing forth a true dialogue of peace and resolve the dire situation that Venezuela has been experiencing.