Thieves throw stolen statues into Tiber River

The wooden statue of a pregnant woman displayed in the Church of St Mary in Traspontina on October 18 (CNS/Paul Haring)

Two men entered a church near the Vatican yesterday and stole copies of a statue of a pregnant woman that had been a centrepiece of several prayer services connected to the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon. Source: CNS.

In a video shared with bloggers and Catholic news outlets that have complained about the statue being a pagan symbol, the two men set the statues on the railing of a bridge over the Tiber River and knocked them in, watching them float away.

The statues of a kneeling pregnant woman “represented life, fertility, Mother Earth,” Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, told reporters yesterday.

Stealing the statues and throwing them in the river, he said, “is a gesture that contradicts the spirit of dialogue”.

“I don’t know what else to say except that it was a theft and perhaps that speaks for itself,” Ruffini said. Police are investigating the theft.

The statues had been kept in several side chapels at the Church of St Mary in Traspontina where prayer services connected to the Synod have been held daily since the gathering began earlier this month.

The statue was present on October 4 when Pope Francis planted a tree in the Vatican gardens and entrusted the Synod to St Francis of Assisi. It was used again on October 7 during a prayer and procession from the Basilica of St Peter to the Vatican Synod hall and early October 19 as Synod members and supports prayed the Stations of the Cross on the main street leading to St Peter’s Square.

The video of the theft and news about it spread quickly on Twitter. Taylor Marshall, author of the book Infiltration: The Plot to Destroy the Church from Within and a frequent critic of the use of the statue, told Twitter followers “with great joy” that the images had been tossed into the river “as an act of obedience to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and in reparation to his Sacred Heart wounded by sin”.

Others, however, expressed disgust at the theft and destruction of statues. Catholic author Dawn Eden Goldstein said on Twitter that the theft was “a sick crime”.

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Thieves steal statues used at synod prayer, throw them in the river (CNS)

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