Monday, April 25, 2011

Protesters interrupt Easter masses in Mexico, Chile

The Catholic Church in numerous Latin American countries has traditionally been involved in the political arena. (On the eve of the murder of Archbishop Juan Girardi, the Guatemalan archdiocese urged authorities to “bring justice” against all those responsible for his death). But what happens when political issues are literally brought into the Church?

A group of demonstrators interrupted Sunday’s Easter mass in Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral. The mass was suspended for approximately ten minutes while seven protesters, including one woman using a megaphone, reportedly shouted “slogans against the Catholic Church hierarchy”. Normal service resumed but only after private security and some worshippers forced the demonstrators out of the house of worship.

Armando Martinez, the president of Mexico’s Catholic Lawyers College, blasted the protesters for their “grave sin in profaning the Eucharistic celebration”. (The Mexican Archdiocese would subsequently absolve the protesters of sin). Martinez also accused the demonstrators of being members of the “militant” wing of the left-leaning PRD political party though PRD leaders such as Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebard “condemned” the “intolerant and disrespectful” manifestation.

The Mexico City protest comes as more attention is being paid to sensitive social issues such as birth control and gay rights. On occasions the debate becomes too intense such as the Easter protest or insensitive like an editorial in the Mexico City archdiocese newsletter that equated violent criminals with officials who “promote” abortion.

An incident similar to the one in Mexico City occurred hundreds of miles south in Santiago, Chile. Police arrested a pair of demonstrators who interrupted Easter mass in the capital city’s Metropolitan Cathedral. “Freedom for Mapuche political prisoners” shouted the two in support of four convicted Mapuche rights activists who are entering the sixth week of a hunger strike.

Santiago Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati, who presided over the interrupted mass and is serving as an intermediary between the prisoners and the movement, reacted in a conciliatory manner:

More than an interruption I interpret it as a voice raised to the Almighty, and that we should really live this Easter reaching out to those who suffer.
The protest in Santiago comes as several priests and other church officials are under investigation for sexual abuse. The most serious case is that of Fr. Fernando Karadima, a figure who trained five bishops and dozens of priests but was found to have abused at least three minors. The controversy has reached such a point that Ezzati sought forgiveness for the “confusing and shameful” abuses by “garbage” within the church.

Image- EFE (“Mapuches protesting at the Santiago cathedral in support of fasting prisoners.”)
Online Sources- El Universal,, BBC Mundo, Milenio, teleSUR, La Tercera,

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