Vandalism By Catholics In Columbia - Now Admitted!

Luther W. Martin
St. James, Mo.

From time to time, various Protestant sources have charged that a substantial amount of persecution has been waged against Protestants by Roman Catholics in the South American country of Colombia. This accusation has always been vehemently denied by Roman Catholic spokesmen . . . UNTIL . . . the October 2, 1959, issue of the St. Louis Review the "Official newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Louis (Mo.) We copy as follows:

"Vandalism By Catholics In Colombia Hit"

"Secretariat of Bishops Deplores Excesses In LaPlata"

"Bogota, Colombia, Oct. I (NC) - The national secretariat of the Columbian Bishops last week denounced the destruction of Protestant property by Catholics in the town of LaPlata and called on local Catholics to pay for the damage they caused.

"The statement of the Under-Secretariat of Faith and Morals of the Permanent Secretariat of the Colombian Bishops attributed the incident to 'a proselytism that wants at any cost to gain a foothold among a Catholic population.'

"Following all investigation in LaPlata the under-secretariat reported that on Sept. 3, a group of Catholics there broke the bricks to be used in building a chapel of the Protestant Missionary Christian Alliance, demolished a three-foot wall and destroyed a nearby tomato field belonging to a Protestant. It estimated damages at about $650.

"The under-secretariat's report said:

"The most prominent families of LaPlata decided to take official steps to take part in as many demonstrations as necessary to prevent the construction of the chapel, which was intended more to provide for the Protestant need for a base for activity in the forbidden mission lands of Tierradentro than as a place for services for 20 followers.

"'Reproachable in itself, explainable but not justifiable for any reason, is the destruction of the property of those who err,' the report said. 'Violent methods of destruction, acts of barbarism or irresponsible savagery are never justified . . . in the defense against the proselytizing penetration of sects which, with abundant funds, want to build their own chapel.

"We feel that the Catholics of LaPlata are obliged to reimburse the young Protestant owner of the tomato field by means of an organized collection, the report declared.

"It called the damage claims of the protestant Confederation of Colombia for $1,500 was too high. It also denied the confederation's Presentation claim that the Rev. Jose Dario Ovies, pastor (Roman Catholic. LWAI.) of LaPlata, had 'incited the people to hate the Protestants' and had instigated the incident. It was noted that at the time the incident occurred Father Dario was hearing confessions.

"Following the incident Gov. Felio Andrade of Huila province flew to LaPlata and left a guard of 30 troops there."

Colombian Bishops Are To Be Commended!

Certainly this admission by the Roman Catholic Bishops is an "about-face" when compared to the usual denials of similar charges. The Bishop's statement expresses a commendable viewpoint when taken at face value . . . and of course that is the way we must accept it.

This is on1y one of several 'slips' that have crept out into the open in recent months. Recently, here in the States, a nation-wide TV show had a number of young students from a parochial school as guests. The popular emcee stuck his neck out, so to speak, by inquiring of the Catholic elementary school student; "And what do they teach you at St. ______________'s School?" The rather embarrassing reply was not long in coming: "Protestants are all going to hell!" The emcee soon dropped the "hot" subject.

It does make us wonder, though, just what Catholic children ARE taught???

Truth Magazine IV:2, pp. 22-23
November 1959