PARIS — Bishop Pascal Roland of Belley-Ars, France, has ordered that the Blessed Sacrament be removed from all chapels and churches in the diocese, following a wave of sacrileges that have taken place in recent days.
After numerous tabernacles were profaned and consecrated Hosts were stolen, Bishop Roland issued an ordinance instructing, “The Blessed Sacrament shall be removed from the tabernacles of all the churches and parish chapels and be reserved in a safe place.”
“The doors of the tabernacle shall remain completely open,” the bishop ordered. For purposes of public or private prayer, “The Blessed Sacrament may be returned temporarily to the tabernacle on the condition that a sufficient presence of the faithful is ensured.” The bishop’s order went into effect Feb. 10 and will remain in force until further notice.
Bishop Roland said he hopes the measures will convey to all the gravity of these acts and will help prevent them from occurring again.
The diocese has experienced a string of sacrileges and profanations over the past several months, with statues and other sacred objects stolen from several parishes. Police are currently collecting photos of the stolen items to prevent them from being sold in auctions and at arts shows.
On Feb. 6, parishioners in the towns of Châtillon-sur-Chalaronne and Ambronay discovered that the tabernacles at their churches had been broken into and the consecrated Hosts had been removed. Consecrated Hosts were also removed from the tabernacle the following day at a parish in the town of Vonnas.
The wave of sacrileges continued on Feb. 7 in the town of Montluel, where hosts were also taken out of the tabernacle and stolen.