Just ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to Mexico, a Protestant church was raided and furniture set to fire in Chiapas, Mexico
Early in the morning on February 15, when many Mexicans in Chiapas were getting ready to see the Pope, the church “Fuente de Fe, Alabanza y Poder” was raid by strangers, causing damages of thousands of Mexican pesos.
Due to the Pope’s visit to the region, the police office in the city was closed, and the church’s pastor, Ciro Díaz Méndez, was therefore unable to report the attack. However, he – along with a legal representative – went to the church to verify the damages.
The church is located in the Navenchauc community, in the city of Zinacantán, inside the Chiapas state. This is the region where evangelical churches have experienced the biggest growth, and where, according to Roman Catholic bishops, only 58% of the population is Catholic.
According to details, The unknown attackers entered in the church by force, breaking the door and a window. Once inside, they piled 200 chairs, along with everything they found (the pulpit, curtains, tables), and burnt them. The fire also destroyed the ceiling.
The next day, Pope Francis spoke against exploitation and oppression of the indigenous people of Chiapas, saying the world should seek forgiveness for their treatment of them.
“How well we would all do, to do some soul searching and learn to say sorry,” Francis said.
Evangelical Focus however noted that “the Pope did not mention any of the attacks and aggressions some Mexican evangelical communities have suffered in the recent years, most of the times (sic) just for not renouncing their faith.”
This event is not one of of its kind event. In recent past there has been a growth in Evangelical churches in Mexico which has led to persecution of Evangelical Christians at the hands of Catholics in rural areas.
In January this year, armed villagers raided and destroyed the homes of Protestants in Leyva Velazques village,
Chiapas, forcing them to flee to nearby mountains.
International Christian Concern has been keeping an eye on the persecution on this region and ICC advocacy manager, Nathaniel Lance says “in the rural areas where we see persecution, many villages and their councils are dominated by adherents to syncretistic Catholicism.”
Previously, Pope Francis had apologized and asked other churches to forgive Catholics for their behaviour towards them, yet such instances only fuel a centuries old fire and leads to an non-gospel behaviour.