Santiago de Chile, July 31st, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Hundreds of pro-abortion protesters burst into the Cathedral in Santiago, Chile this past Thursday, while a mass in honor of James the Apostle, the city’s patron saint, was being celebrated, where they extensively vandalized the historic building.

Attending the mass celebrated by Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati was the city’s Mayor Carolina Tohá.

The violent attack took place after a march for abortion rights was held in the city streets, where some participants went topless and carried banners with babies on a background of blood. 

At around 9pm, while Auxiliary Bishop Pedro Ossandón was saying his homily in the Cathedral, about 300 people stormed into the building, shouting slogans in favor of legal abortion.

The vandals tore out pews and carried them out into the street, destroyed a confessional, threw trash and spray-painted some of the altars and images with blasphemous texts and pro-abortion phrases, one of which read: “Mary wanted to abort.”

They also tried to get to the main altar but were impeded from doing so by the faithful gathered in the Cathedral.

Monsignor Juan de la Cruz, the Cathedral’s chaplain said: “it’s very painful, people that climbed on the altars, they got undressed, took off their pants…this is called sacrilege.”

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Auxiliary Bishop Ossandón responded to the vandalism, saying, “we invite everyone to manifest themselves in whichever way they wish, but that they do so with respect for the law, for democracy, and the for the dignity of others.” 

When pro-life President Sebastián Piñera heard of the attack he reiterated his government’s commitment to respect religious freedom and the life of the unborn. He said that the vandalism by the pro-abortion protesters “does not respect the rights of others. They're not tolerant and are contradicting their own views." 

Authorities said they would make sure the vandals receive proper punishment, with charges of violating religious freedom, discrimination, and causing voluntary damages to a national monument. 

So far only two people have been arrested.

Abortion in Chile is illegal under all circumstances. The country boasts the lowest maternal mortality rate in Latin America. In 2011, the International Committee for the Protection of Life presented President Sebastián Piñera with an award praising his government for its pro-life policies.