Forty members of the military reportedly set off tear gas in the church as Mass was concluding.
Members of the military loyal to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro reportedly launched tear-gas canisters in a Catholic church during Mass, according to a report by Catholic News Service.
In a May 2 letter published by the news agency Fides, Mario del Valle Moronta Rodriguez of San Cristobal said that two National Guard members entered Our Lady of Fatima Church on motorcycles as Mass was concluding.
According to the report, when the pastor Father Jairo Clavijo forbade them from entering, “a horde of 40 Bolivarian National Guard members” entered the church.
“Not pleased with that, the members of the Bolivarian National Guard launched tear-gas bombs in the church, causing an immediate evacuation of the sacred place where there was a good number of faithful, including many elderly people,” Bishop Moronta said.
“This event is very serious, and it is an attack against the Catholic Church. I hold General Ochoa and the military authorities in the region responsible for this vile event that speaks to the will of the attackers who do not respect human dignity nor fear God,” Bishop Moronta said.
The confrontation took place as forces who support Maduro clashed with protesters and members of the military who support opposition leader Juan Guaido.