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Rome Reports

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Churches burn to the ground amid protests in Santiago, Chile

“May violence not intimidate our longing for justice in Chile.” With these words, the bishops of Chile firmly condemn these jarring incidents.

The bell-tower of the parish of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Chile's capital collapsed, engulfed in flames. A similar scene played out in the institutional church of the Carabineros.

These events occurred during a demonstration on the first anniversary of the protests that shook the country last year, the most violent since the end of the military dictatorship 30 years ago.

Archbishop of Santiago

“It's already been a year since we suffered a breakout of violence that caused us so much personal pain, as well as a lot of material destruction. We thought it would be a bitter and powerful lesson. It has cost us a lot to reconstruct these buildings, and it's demanded sacrifices and constant discomfort from the most impoverished. Their lives were made more difficult. The poor are those who suffer the most.”

This wave of violence “against social inequalities” takes place days before Chileans are to submit their ballots, on Oct. 25, to vote on the viability of a constitutional reform.

The Chilean bishops say these violent groups differ greatly from many others who have protested peacefully. They say the people “will not let themselves be intimidated by threats of violence,” and that they will “concur to fulfill their civic responsibility.”

Daniel Díaz Vizzi
Translation: CT