Activists demonstrating in favor of legalizing abortion rights attempted to set fire to the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral on Saturday.
In footage of the demonstration posted on social media, protesters can be seen setting the fire outside cathedral as drums and music play in the background. About 1,200 activists joined the march for abortion rights, according to local media.
Catholics gathered in front of the cathedral doors to block the protesters, while firefighters and police worked to prevent further violence and the spread of the fire.
“Thanks to the denunciations in Catholics’ social networks, offering to defend the churches, the government . . . sent police to defend them,” said Mauricio Alfonso Guitar, deputy head of the Cristera National Guard in Mexico City, according to the Catholic News Agency.
Fires were also set at the city’s Chamber of Commerce and at several other buildings and monuments around the city.
The archbishop of Mexico City on Saturday urged peace during the turmoil.
“I greet and recognize all the people who united today to pray, and to care for the churches in the center of Mexico City, as well as to assert the right to manifestation in freedom and in peace,” reads a translation of Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes’s statement, which he posted on Twitter. “The Church strongly rejects any form of violent confrontation. Let us defend dialogue, tolerance and love for one’s neighbor as tools to build the country for all.”
Saludo y reconozco a todas las personas que hoy se unieron para orar, y para cuidar los templos en el centro de la Ciudad de México, así como para hacer valer el derecho a la manifestación en libertad y en paz. La Iglesia rechaza tajantemente toda forma de confrontación violenta
— Carlos Aguiar Retes (@ArzobispoAguiar) September 29, 2019
Activists took to the streets in other cities around Mexico as well over the weekend, in demonstrations designed to advocate for nationwide legalization of abortion. The procedure has been legal in Mexico City since 2007, and the Mexican state of Oaxaca on Wednesday approved a bill to legalize it.