Why are Chile’s churches under attack?
World Watch Monitor December 15, 2017
Seven hours’ drive south of Santiago, 27 churches have been burnt down in the past couple of years.
The attackers leave messages with the demands of the Mapuches, a tribe whose land was taken from them during Chile’s colonisation by Spanish Catholics. Many Mapuches now identify as Christian: 55% Catholic, 32% Protestant.
But for some others, Christians are still seen as invaders.
Of the 20 churches burnt down between 2015 and 2016, 12 were Catholic, 8 Protestant. In 2017, a further 7 have been torched. Many belonged to the poorest in Chile, and were attended by Mapuches themselves.
Abelino Apeleo, an Anglican bishop and ethnic Mapuche, said the primary issue is ignorance on the part of some of his fellow Mapuches. “Those with a more radical, violent attitude blame the Church for creating the problems of the Mapuches,” he said. “This is totally wrong. And of course, we cannot support violence as a response.”