Two Catholic churches were destroyed in Chile’s capital city Sunday in the wake of riots marking the one-year anniversary of anti-government protests that called for a new constitution.
“Television images from Santiago on Sunday showed masked protesters filming with their smartphones and cheering as the spire of the burning La Asunción church crashed to the ground,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “Demonstrators also set fire to San Francisco Borja church, which dates from the mid-19th century.”
The Church of St. Francis Borgia is regularly used for law enforcement ceremonies. The Church of the Assumption, over a century-and-a-half old, saw its dome collapse into flames to the shouts of, “Let it fall, let it fall.”
The Archbishop of Santiago, Celestino Aos, made a public statement condemning the violence:
A year ago we suffered an outbreak of violence that caused us so much personal pain, and so much material destruction that we thought would have been a bitter and strong lesson. We have had a hard time rebuilding the facilities, and it has demanded constant sacrifices and discomfort from the most impoverished; it made their lives more painful.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the government also condemned the attacks that included businesses as well. “This is an expression of brutality,” said Interior Minister Victor Perez, who added, “Today we must lament the violent acts, but we will confront them.”