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The empty tabernacle of the parish church of San Lucas Evangelista after the consecrated hosts were stolen.Facebook/Screenshot

(LifeSiteNews) — After the theft of the Blessed Sacrament from a Mexican church, the local bishop is urging priests to offer Masses “to atone” for the “desecration.”

On May 14, Bishop Ramón Castro Castro, of the Diocese of Cuernavaca in central Mexico, issued a statement announcing the theft of the Blessed Sacrament from a church in the diocese.

“In view of the unfortunate desecration of the Blessed Sacrament suffered in the chapel of the Lord of the Harvest in the Jardín Juárez neighborhood, I share with you the following communiqué,” he wrote.

Castro’s statement informed the priests of the diocese that the “desecration” he referenced was that “the Blessed Sacrament was stolen from the chapel of the Lord of the Harvest, belonging to the Parish of San Lucas Evangelista.”

According to his statement, “the pertinent investigations are already underway” for the robbery which took place May 13. 

In light of the event, Castro urged his priests to make reparation for the theft. “Therefore, I strongly request that in your communities the Eucharist be celebrated and other liturgical and religious acts be carried out, for your consideration, to atone for this unfortunate event.”

Bishop Ramón Castro Castro

Speaking to the media a day later, Castro spoke about an “evil intention” on the part of the thieves, who sought out the “most sacred thing.” He warned about the likelihood of the stolen consecrated hosts being used for “black masses,” 

The 67-year-old prelate called on the thieves to “repent and realize the seriousness of their actions.” He also called on priests to ensure that their tabernacles were properly secured and fixed, thus not movable and easy to carry away. 

Pictures released after the event show the tabernacle lying on the ground with the door broken open. The thieves appeared to have gained access to the chapel by smashing the glass door at the entrance.

No further details about the theft have yet emerged. LifeSiteNews has contacted the diocese for more information and will update this report upon receipt of a response.

While the theft of the Blessed Sacrament is a notable “desecration,” it is by no means the first act of violence against churches in the region, but merely one of the latest such instances. The vicar general of Castro’s diocese noted that many people break into churches looking for precious metals or jewels on the artwork and furnishings. 

Castro himself has been a notable figure since his arrival to the diocesan see in May 2013, having previously spent 17 years working as a Vatican diplomat and then in the Roman Curia. He has regularly been a thorn in the side of the socialist governor of the state of Morelos, Graco Ramírez, particularly on issues relating to life and family.

After denouncing Ramírez’s legalization of same-sex “marriage” in 2016, Castro was warned that he faced potential jail time for “homophobia.” In 2016 he was accused of “meddling in politics” for denouncing the LGBT movement on numerous occasions, as well as for organizing a meeting at the Cathedral of Cuernavaca for the purpose of hearing the complaints of various civil organizations about the crisis of violence and criminality affecting the state. His accusers claimed that he used the meeting to organize opposition to homosexual “marriage.”

READ: Mexican bishop says he’ll evangelize in prison if he’s locked up for ‘homophobia’

However he remained undeterred, responding that “if I go to prison, no problem, I’ll do the work of evangelization there.”

The bishop stated in 2017 that Governor Ramírez had warned of conflict at their first encounter. “He told me (in the first meeting) he had come to this state to implement new laws like equal marriage and abortion. And I told him, ‘I have the opposite mission, support the family and protect life.’ This was our first difference of opinion.”

In a separate incident, another Mexican Catholic diocese suffered an arson attack on one of its churches. The Diocese of Irapuato announced May 15 that the historic church of Santiaguito had been set on fire overnight.

Much of the fire damage was centered around the main entrance doors, with the sanctuary and statues still largely intact and um-damaged by direct flame, but damaged by smoke.

May be an image of temple

No photo description available.
Images of the damaged church. Credit: Obispo Enrique Díaz Díaz/Facebook

In a statement, the diocesan spokesman Father Efrén Silva Plascencia said the fire was set by a man outside the church, shortly after 1 a.m. 

The church is “one of the most emblematic and iconic” in the city, said Plascencia, and had only recently been restored. Now, though, the interior “has been completely damaged by smoke throughout the complex and at the entrance a considerable structural damage which is being appraised by civil protection.”

The incident had been reported to the state prosecutor’s office, added the priest. “We are deeply dismayed by the arson of a church in our city and in our region, it is an unprecedented event, before which the Diocesan Church of Irapuato strongly condemns this sacrilege, and we ask the appropriate authorities to find those responsible.”