Spain: 1,000 Youth Attend Mass After Chapel Assault

Bishop Calls Show of Profanity "Incomprehensible"

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MADRID, Spain, MARCH 23, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Some 1,000 youth participated in a Mass of reparation after an assault on a university chapel in which a mob partially disrobed and shouted profanities around the altar.

The Mass on Friday was celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop César Franco of Madrid, in the chapel of the Somosaguas campus of Madrid's Complutense University, in reparation for the March 10 profanation.

On that day, a mob of 70 young people, the majority female, entered the chapel, gathered around the altar, and shouted blasphemies. Some of the young women took their clothes off, while others made lesbian manifestations.

Friday's Mass, which was also held to request respect for religious liberty, was concelebrated by the pastoral delegate of the university, the campus chaplain and other chaplains.

In his homily, Bishop Franco stated that the acts of vandalism carried out in the chapel were "incomprehensible" and "have wounded religious sensibility."

Inhumane gestures

Expressing "profound sorrow," he lamented that "this small chapel, a place of worship and prayer, which offers university students the possibility of encountering Christ in the daily Eucharist and in the liturgy of the Church, was profaned with blasphemies, attacks on the Church and its magisterium with gestures and attitudes unworthy of a human person."

Members of the association "Against Power" gathered in front of the Faculty of Political Science in solidarity with four companions arrested on Friday by the police in relation to the events of March 10.

After having read a manifesto, the content of which they refused to show the press, some members of the group said they were opposed to the fact that a budget was allocated to the chapel when it could have been used for other purposes, such as the heating of the building in which they study.

However, Madrid's Complutense University issued a reminded that the chapels remain open thanks to an agreement that it signed with the episcopal conference for their maintenance.

The archbishopric of Madrid condemned the events of March 10 and sent a protest to the university rector, who opened an inquiry to identify those responsible.

In a note, the archbishopric affirmed that actions of this type are "an attack on freedom of worship and a profanation of a sacred place, which entails canonical punishments in the case of those who are baptized and committed them."

Ángel Gabilondo, minister of education, also condemned the incident, saying that it was "reprehensible," and stressing the importance of values such as tolerance and respect for the convictions and beliefs of others.

According to the Spanish newspaper ABC, the attacks on this chapel are not new. According to university sources, at the beginning of the week the walls and doors of the chapel were painted with insults against the Catholic religion. Allusion was also made to cases of pederasty among the clergy.