MADRID, Spain (ChurchMilitant.com) - A lawyer's warning that a judge's ruling would give license to attack Catholics with impunity is proving to be valid.
Two churches in Madrid were broken into and the consecrated hosts stolen after a Spanish appeals court rejects an appeal to prosecute a homosexual artist for a 2015 performance using consecrated hosts. The first theft took place on December 19 when the chapel at San Francisco de Paula seniors' home run by the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul was forced open, and the ciborium was stolen. Many consecrated hosts were left scattered on the ground. This followed the December 18 desecration of a nativity scene that was turned into a pornographic display.
The most recent desecration was at the parish of St. Francis of Sales in Parla in the diocese of Getafe. Sometime during the night of December 26, thieves broke into the church and forced the tabernacle open to steal the consecrated hosts. The diocese labeled this a desecration as the thieves did not force the lock of the church and nothing else was taken.
The theft was immediately reported to the police and all parishes in Parla were notified to "request prayer for the thieves and acts of reparation before the Heart of Christ," Fr. Modesto Alvarez, parish priest of San Francisco de Sales, shared on social media.
In a statement released on December 28, the diocese of Getafe called for a public act of reparation to be held on the Feast of the Holy Innocents. It was presided over by Bp. Joaquin Maria Lopez de Anduajar, the diocese's bishop. They called for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and acts of reparation.
"It is important to remain united in prayer in these sad moments and find support in the Faith," said Fr. Alvarez. In an address from the parish's social media accounts, he wrote, "Do not let the enemy take advantage of this." He implored the faithful to not "multiply the offense by letting hate enter" and to ask the Lord that He has mercy on the thieves. He continued:
Resist firmly in the Faith, knowing that God makes all things be for the good of those who love him. Let's go to the Tabernacle and tell Him that we love Him, that we value His Eucharistic Presence, that we care very much about what has happened, that we thank Him for exposing Himself to being kidnapped if He is there in case someone wants or needs to be with Him.
This is not the first time desecration of the Blessed Sacrament has occurred in Spain. In 2015, the homosexual performance artist, Abel Azcona, admitted to stealing 242 consecrated hosts to by attending Masses and hiding the hosts in his jacket. Azcona used the hosts to spell the Spanish word for pederasty — meaning sex between men and boys — on city property in Pamplona.
Photos of the thefts of the Hosts and the nude artist were shown in a public art gallery. Over 110,000 people signed the petition to have the display removed, and a number of protests in front of the Pamplona city council building were organized. Miguel Vidal, a spokesman for the group Maslibres.org, called the exhibit "a flagrant attack against our freedoms and a spectacle reflecting the moral and creative poverty of the supposed artist."
Vidal also decried the use of city property and called the Pamplona city government "an accomplice in what can be considered the biggest attack on Catholics in recent years."
Polonia Castellanos, president of the Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers (SPCL), told the media in 2015 that they filed a lawsuit against Azcona for "an offense against religious sentiments and desecration." When the case came to trial in November 2016, the Spanish Judge, Fermin Otamendi of the Pamplona second district, dismissed the charges against Azcona.
In his ruling, he referred to the Blessed Sacrament as "small white round objects" and claimed there was not a "desecration" because it is defined as "treating something sacred without due respect or using it for profane purposes," and Azcona did not treat something sacred without due respect because "lack of respect should not be confused with not doing what the Catholic Church requires its faithful to do with the consecrated hosts in the act of Communion."
Otamendi defended Azcona's use of the hosts, saying the exhibition "does not constitute derision of the beliefs, rites or ceremonies of the Catholic Church nor is it an affront to those who profess or practice said beliefs." Otamendi also denied the hosts were consecrated despite Azcona stating several times and posting on social media that he did steal consecrated hosts.
Castellanos objected to the ruling and noted that 110,000 people who had signed the petition and the 4,500 who attended the Mass of reparation constitute evidence of an offense against religious sentiments.
On December 7, media reported that the SPCL will be preparing documents to take Azcona to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. This move comes after the Spanish Constitutional court rejected the SPCL's appeal. Castellanos said, "It is a shame that such an attack on Catholics goes unpunished."
She insisted the move is "discrimination" since no other groups are insulted. She contrasted that accusations of offensive conduct "against the Catholics and against the Christians is admitted absolutely everything." She also warned that the refusal to prosecute means "that one can go with impunity against the Catholics."
Fr. Alvarez said, "We, as the Body of Christ, take charge and are willing to bear that sin and its consequences and offer ourselves as victims of Mercy, so that God will find a way to forgive them."
"May they love them as we love them and give our lives, so that they may be restored to the friendship of Christ," he said.
Chuch Militant reached out to the diocese of Getafe for comment but has not heard back by press time.