ACN statement—two churches set on fire in Santiago de Chile

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) condemns the Oct. 18 violent attacks on churches in Santiago de Chile, the Chilean capital. Two churches were attacked by protesters at a time when several hours of peaceful demonstration were taking place to celebrate the beginning of the social uprising on Oct. 18, 2019: The San Francisco de Borja Church and the Church of the Assumption, one of the oldest in the capital, built in 1876, which had already been attacked in November 2019.

Fire in the parish of the Assumption
Fire in the parish of the Assumption

Statement by Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of ACN:

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

Nothing justifies the use of violence, nor the attacks on sacred spaces, nor will the use of violence against the faith and beliefs of others contribute to the defense of 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 openly condemned worldwide. Furthermore, we ask the Chilean government to ensure the protection of religious buildings against this kind of hate crime.

We express our closeness and support to the parish priest of the Church of the Assumption, Father Pedro Narbona, who for many years also has supported the work of the Chilean office of ACN to help 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 churches and buildings are being systematically threatened by violent groups. Since October 2019 more than 57 have been attacked in this country.”