ACI Prensa Staff, Sep 1, 2023 / 16:30 pm (CNA).
Bishop Héctor Zordán of Gualeguaychú, Argentina, denounced the attack carried out by vandals on a chapel early Wednesday morning when unidentified persons broke into the place, destroying things and setting fire to the articles used for Mass.
The perpetrators struck Our Lady of the Valley chapel near the small settlement of Pehuajó Sud. The chapel is part of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in the town of Larroque, about 11 miles to the west.
In an Aug. 30 statement posted on Facebook, the bishop said the damage inflicted was a criminal act motivated by the intent to “desecrate the sacred place and its contents, rather than theft.”
The vandals forced their way into the chapel, started the fire, and damaged an image of the Virgin.
“We strongly repudiate this act and we share the bewilderment and pain of those who have real ties to the chapel and that of the parish community of Larroque,” the prelate said.
“The Pehuajó chapel is a center of worship for the believing families who live in the area and the object of the annual pilgrimage in which a large number of faithful participate and which this year celebrates its 50th edition,” he noted.
Zordán invited the faithful to perform penitential gestures and acts “to join together in solidarity to make reparation for the offense caused to God our Lord and to the Blessed Virgin Mary.” He also called for prayers for the aggressors.
Speaking with the El Once portal, Father Carlos Stadler, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, said: “They came in to do damage. Nothing was stolen.”
“They didn’t enter to steal, because they moved a bronze tabernacle and didn’t take it away,” he pointed out. “In addition, they were prepared, because they brought a container of fuel.”
Stadler attributed the attack to “purely spiritual issues, because all the things that they wanted to break are placed in spiritual order.”
Among the objects that were burned were stools, planks, a portable altar, and a wooden shelf. The fire damaged part of the back wall and damaged an image of the Virgin of Loreto that had been donated by the founder of the chapel, whose remains that are interred there were also vandalized.
“We have an image of Our Lady of Loreto, a beautiful wooden image, and the entire shelf where she was placed, which was also made of wood, was burned. The image, thank God, is fine, we will have to remove a lot of soot from it,” the priest explained.
A complaint was filed with the Pehuajó police sub-station and the Larroque police station.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
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