A Colombian bishop has decried the desecration of a Catholic church and its tabernacle in the country and called on civil authorities to investigate the crime.
The church of Our Lady of Valvanera in Pitalito, Colombia was broken into Dec. 12 by unidentified vandals who broke open the tabernacle and threw consecrated hosts on the ground, Vatican News reported. The vandals also stole the ciborium, the monstrance, and other items from the church.
“In the name of the Catholic Church, I raise my voice in protest and condemnation for the desecration of the church and the tabernacle,” Bishop Fabio Duque Jaramillo of Garzón said in a statement Tuesday.
He called the desecration “an act which wounds all Catholics of the Diocese of Garzón and the universal Church, because we see the central mystery of our faith under attack: the Eucharist, the presence of God in our midst and the extension of the mystery of human redemption.”
Pitalito is a Colombian city with a population of roughly 135,000 located about 311 miles south and east of the capital of Bogota. More than 80% of the country’s population identifies as Catholic.
The bishop said the desecration was a “serious violation of the people’s religious rights,” and he called on the government to investigate and prosecute the criminals. Civil authorities should “not underestimate the damage these attacks have on the feelings and faith of Catholics,” he said.
“When the rights of God are trampled upon with impunity, our human rights are also in danger,” he added. Duque added that the perpetrators of the desecration have incurred automatic excommunication. He urged Catholics to pray for whoever desecrated the church, and to speak out against such acts. The break-in and desecration comes amid a spate of vandalism and attacks against Catholic churches and statues in the United States and throughout the world.