3 Catholic Churches Firebombed Ahead of Pope Francis’ Visit to Chile

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Pope Francis celebrates a new year's Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Days before the scheduled visit of Pope Francis to Chile, three Roman Catholic churches in the national capital of Santiago were firebombed and a note left at the scene threatening to put “the next bomb” in the pontiff’s “cassock.”

After the firebomb attacks on the three churches Friday, police found barrels of flammable liquid at two other churches that had not been ignited, according to The Associated Press.

No injuries were reported, except minor physical damage, according to Interior Ministry official Mahmud Aleuy.

Pamphlets threatening, “The next bombs will be in your cassock,” were found outside one of the three churches that was attacked.

The pamphlets mentioned the Mapuche indigenous people, who are asking the government to return their ancestral lands and give them some rights. They also referred to “dominion over our bodies,” and included the phrase “free, impure and savage bodies,” alluding to the church’s positions on sexuality and abortion, according to The New York Times. “We attack with the fire of combat, exploding your disgusting morals,” the pamphlets said, and also called for the liberation of “all political prisoners in the world.”

In 2011, the Vatican found the Rev. Fernando Karadima from El Bosque parish in Santiago guilty of sexual abuse and sentenced him to a life of penitence and prayer, but the victims were not compensated, according to the Times.

Research published recently by BishopAccountability.org showed that around 80 members of the clergy in Chile have been accused of sexual abuse since 2000, and that more than half have been convicted in court or by the Vatican.

Francis will arrive Monday in Santiago and later celebrate Mass and meet with Mapuche people in the southern city of Temuco Wednesday.

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