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By Ioan Grillo

11/21/2007 (7 years ago)

Catholic News Service (www.catholicnews.com)

100 Political Protesters Disrupted Sunday Mass chanting slogans and threatening the faithful, including the priests.The Archdiocese of Mexico called the event a "condemnable and cowardly act of terror, unequivocal expression of religious intolerance and of the hatred toward the Catholic Church."

Police stand in front of the cathedral in Mexico City in this file photo from April. Services at the cathedral were suspended by the Mexico City Archdiocese after leftist protesters disrupted a Nov. 19 Mass. (CNS photo/Reuters)

Police stand in front of the cathedral in Mexico City in this file photo from April. Services at the cathedral were suspended by the Mexico City Archdiocese after leftist protesters disrupted a Nov. 19 Mass. (CNS photo/Reuters)

Highlights

By Ioan Grillo

Catholic News Service (www.catholicnews.com)

11/21/2007 (7 years ago)

Published in Americas


MEXICO CITY (CNS) - Church officials closed and locked Mexico City's Metropolitan Cathedral and suspended all services after about 150 leftist protesters stormed into a Sunday Mass shouting slogans and kicking over pews.

Father Hugo Valdemar, spokesman for the Mexico City Archdiocese, said Nov. 19 that the cathedral will not resume Masses until federal and city police can guarantee security. It is the first time the cathedral has suspended services since Mexico's Cristero uprisings in the 1920s, he said.

"We have to take this action before there is bloodshed," Father Valdemar told Catholic News Service. "We need police to launch a public campaign showing we are being protected."

Leftist leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who lost the 2006 presidential race by a razor-thin margin, was leading a protest in the plaza adjoining the cathedral. Lopez Obrador claims the election was rigged and calls himself Mexico's "legitimate president."

The ringing of the church bells during one of the rally's speeches angered the demonstrators.

A breakaway group stormed past a line of police and charged up the cathedral aisle. They finally left after the bells stopped ringing and other protesters called for moderation.

Father Ruben Avila Blancas, who was in the church, described it as an act of terrorism.

"The protesters came in threatening and assaulting. Many of the faithful were injured: old people, crying children," Father Avila said. "We cannot go on like this."

Guadalupe Acosta, head of Lopez Obrador's Democratic Revolution Party, condemned the incident but called for an investigation into why the church bells were sounding for such a long time.

"We deny responsibility for these acts," Acosta said on Mexico's W Radio.

Lopez Obrador, who says he wants to lift millions of Mexicans out of poverty, has always described his movement as nonviolent and says he supports demonstrations and civil resistance.

He accused Mexico City Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of supporting President Felipe Calderon during the 2006 election campaign. Mexico's 1917 Constitution bans clergy from any intervention in politics.

Cardinal Rivera's vocal opposition to Mexico City laws permitting abortion and gay civil unions also angers leftists.

Cardinal Rivera was in Rome Nov. 19 but has voiced full support for the suspension of Masses, Father Valdemar said.

In 1926, the Catholic Church suspended Masses across Mexico after assailants carried out bombings and killings in churches and President Plutarco Elias Calles introduced tough anti-clerical laws.

Some 90,000 people were killed in the ensuing Cristero war before the government and church reached an accord in 1929.

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Copyright (c) 2007 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops



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