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SALTILLO, Mexico (LifeSiteNews) — A Mexican bishop condemned the sacrilegious theft of Eucharistic hosts from the tabernacle of a chapel in his diocese, declaring that if the person who stole the Blessed Sacrament is Catholic, he has incurred the penalty of automatic excommunication.

The theft took place on November 25 at Sacred Heart of Jesus chapel, which belongs to Our Lady of Schoenstatt Parish. Bishop Hilario González García of Saltillo in the Mexican state of Coahuila issued a statement calling for reparation for the grave offense.

González wrote, “As the front door was forced open, and also the tabernacle, the ciborium with the Blessed Sacrament was wrongfully stolen.”

The bishop declared that since theft constituted “a violation of the sacred place and a sacrilege against the sacred Eucharistic species, therefore, whoever perpetrated it, if he is Catholic, has committed a crime against the sacraments.”

READ: ‘Sacrilege’: Catholic church in Mexico set on fire, Eucharist stolen from another

Until public reparation was made for the sacrilege, the bishop forbade the celebration of Mass at the chapel, stating that “for the very serious offense committed against Our Lord,” the Catholic faithful were called to make “acts of reparation” and promote “love for Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.”

The bishop was following Church law regarding the requisite public reparation to be made when a sacred place is gravely violated. Canon 1211 of the Code of Canon Law states that “Sacred places are violated by gravely injurious actions done in them with scandal to the faithful, actions which, in the judgment of the local ordinary, are so grave and contrary to the holiness of the place that it is not permitted to carry on worship in them until the damage is repaired by a penitential rite according to the norm of the liturgical books.”

González warned the priests and faithful of the diocese “to take great care for the security of sacred places,” and that “if anyone finds the sacred hosts or the ciborium, he should inform Our Lady of Schoenstatt Parish.”

Earlier this year, the Blessed Sacrament was stolen from another church in Mexico, with the bishop warning of the danger and likelihood of the stolen consecrated hosts being used for “black masses.”

On May 14, Bishop Ramón Castro of the Diocese of Cuernavaca in central Mexico issued a statement announcing and condemning the theft of the sacred hosts from a church in the diocese. Speaking to the media at the time, Castro spoke about an “evil intention” on the part of the thieves, who sought out the “most sacred thing.” The bishop called for public reparation on the part of the faithful and greater measures in safeguarding the Blessed Sacrament.

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