Mexican Officials Commit Sacrilege at Chapel Says Chaplain

There is outrage over Mexican authorities and the alleged sacrilege in a Church that is used by prisoners in a Saltillo jail.

Father Robert Coogan, an American priest who looks over prisoners of the town which is 190 miles southwest of the border city of Laredo, claimed that police officials and soldiers executed a raid on Christ the Prisoner Chapel.

During the operation Coogan explains that the authorities "broke open the tabernacle and threw the hosts to the ground and walked on them."

"The prison has been searched before, but the soldiers or police never committed sacrilege," Father Coogan said in an email sent to the Catholic News Service.

The search and subsequent sacrilege was conducted on Jan. 24 and was met with stern disapproval from Bishop Raul Vera Lopez of Saltillo who said in a statement that, "no possible explanation exists that justifies what happened."

The statement which was distributed by the Diocese of Saltillo further stated that members of the Diocese, "we're deeply outraged by these acts because, in addition to attacking the faith of the majority of the Mexican people, they violate the rights of religious freedom."

Coahuila state officials told reporters the raid was conducted due to a request by of Gov. Ruben Moreira Valdez. There are reports that Gov. Valdez as well as his brother former Gov. Humberto Moreira Valdez, have been in perpetual disagreement with Bishop Vera and the Diocese of Saltillo over how to handle the prisons chapel.

The National Human Rights Commission stated in a recent survey that was conducted last year claimed that "self-rule" was the primary governing force at the prison. Security at the prison is lacking as well given that the warden was murdered just outside of the prison last December.

The diocese said there were more than 450 soldiers and police present during the raid in which police officials found 150 grams of synthetic drugs, beer, liquor, knives as well as refrigerators, TVs, video game consoles, microwave ovens and around $400 in cash, according to the Catholic News Service.

Father Coogan explained that prisoners have always had appliances and utensils. Those item are allowed because they are used to store and make food that is brought by relatives and loved ones. It is common practice in Mexico that the family members of those in prison usually support them with food and other items.

"The poor families who sacrifice to make the life of their imprisoned members a little easier are the most affected," Coogan said