Around 5,000 protesters marched through the centre of Santiago on Thursday evening, demanding free abortion. One group entered the Metropolitan Cathedral and interrupted a special Mass for the feast of St James, patron of the city. They smashing part of the church and destroyed painted side altars. They also attempted to set fire to pews. The attack has been condemned by Chilean President Sebastián Piñera condemned the attack saying: "I spoke with the archbishop of Santiago to express our full solidarity and ratify the government’s commitment regarding freedom of religion, freedom of worship and the protection of the unborn".
The mayor of Santiago, Carolina Toha, told reporters that she "is not a believer", but held that "the people who were in the cathedral at that time, were attacked for no apparent reason and this is not acceptable". Toha was among those attending the Mass which was celebrated by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Santiago, Mgr Ricardo Ezzati.
Mgr Ricardo Ezzati voiced "his dismay towards those who have the obligation to ensure people’s safety". He said: "The intolerance of fanatics and their violent irrationality was a great offense to God and the community of believers in Christ. This was a painful incident with assault and ill-treatment to different persons, and the destruction and damage to the artistic and religious heritage of the main temple of the country".
"The Metropolitan Cathedral is a public, open place, declared a national monument, where they are hundreds of citizens every day, but in recent times people have been threatened by bombs and other attacks".
He said the archdiocese's lawyers have filed a complaint in court against the perpetrators.
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