The International Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need condemns the violent attacks on churches in Santiago de Chile yesterday, 18 October. Two temples were attacked by protesters at a time when several hours of peaceful demonstration were taking place to celebrate the beginning of the social outbreak of 18 October 2019: The San Francisco de Borja Church of and the Church of the Assumption, one of the oldest in the capital, built in 1876, which had already been attacked on 8 November 2019.

Statement by Thomas Heine-Geldern, Executive President of the foundation:

“We are dismayed by the aggressions, looting and attacks on churches in Santiago de Chile: Yesterday’s events show how far the violence and hatred promoted by some groups can reach.

Nothing justifies the use of violence, nor the attacks on sacred spaces, nor the use of violence against the faith and beliefs of others will contribute to defend social, racial or economic justice.

We believe that while it is legitimate to demonstrate and ask for social changes, unbridled hatred against religious groups generates violence and destruction and should be worldwide openly condemned. Furthermore, we ask the Chilean government to ensure the protection of religious buildings against this kind of hate crimes.

We express our closeness and support to the parish priest of the Church of the Assumption, Pedro Narbona, who since many years also has supported the work of the Chilean section of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) in favour of the suffering and persecuted Christians. We are aghast at his first-hand suffering of a level of violence against the Church that until now we only knew from other parts of the world.

ACN reiterates its support for all Christians in Chile, whose temples and buildings are been systematically threatened by violent groups. Since October 2019 more than 57 have been attacked and burned in this country.