Vatican condemns attack on Rome church during protest

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06:30 PM October 16th, 2011

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October 16th, 2011 06:30 PM

VIOLENT ROME PROTEST Policemen stand in front of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran during a demonstration in Rome on Saturday, October 15, 2011, as part of a global day of protests inspired by the "Occupy Wall Street" and "Indignant" movements, with the Italian capital under a security lockdown. The Vatican has condemned Saturday's violent clashes including an attack by protesters on a church in which a crucifix and a statue of the Virgin Mary were destroyed. AFP PHOTO/ALBERTO PIZZOLI

VATICAN CITY—The Vatican has condemned Saturday’s violent clashes in central Rome including an attack by protesters on a church in which a crucifix and a statue of the Virgin Mary were destroyed.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said he “condemned the violence and the fact that a church was desecrated by some protesters who broke in and destroyed some images.” He referred to the clashes in Rome as “horrific.”

The 18th-century church of Santi Marcellino and Pietro is near St John Lateran square where much of Saturday’s violence occurred.

“When I came down, I saw the entrance door had been smashed in,” the church’s parish priest, Father Giuseppe Ciucci, was quoted by Italian media as saying.

“The Virgin Mary’s statue, which was at the entrance, had been taken away and I saw it had been thrown into the street and smashed,” he said.

“I went into the sacristy and I saw the door there was also destroyed. The large crucifix at the entrance had been vandalized,” he added.

Hundreds of protesters torched cars, smashed banks and hurled rocks at police during the clashes. Tens of thousands of people had been protesting against government cutbacks and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

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