BUENOS AIRES – Another two churches were vandalized over the past few days in Argentina, which has seen at least five incidents of destruction and defacement in houses of worship in less than two months, authorities told Efe on Tuesday.
The assailants caused material damage and tried to set fire to the Methodist Church of Buenos Aires.
“The most important thing they ruined was an 1832 organ that they destroyed and trampled on seven of the organ pipes,” Eduardo Mariani, the church’s pastor, told Efe.
Mariani said the criminals “prepared to set three fires” with wood they ripped from the floor and paper they piled in the baptismal font and in the base of the organ, but “which they happily failed to light because they got scared away or something happened.”
“It’s obvious there are some small anti-religious groups because this isn’t something that’s only happening to Methodists,” the pastor said.
Also vandalized last week was the Catholic Church of San Antonio de Padua in Capilla del Monte, some 700 kilometers (435 miles) west of Buenos Aires.
The attackers set fire to the doors and a confessional of the church, destroyed an altar, shattered a statue of Christ and made off with several images of saints.
In the past 45 days, another three churches were victims of vandalism in the cities of Mar del Plata, Rosario and Buenos Aires.
The most shocking case for many was perpetrated by students from a prestigious Buenos Aires prep school in the Church of San Ignacio de Loyola, the oldest in the city, where they scribbled the walls with anti-religious slogans and left a trail of destruction.