(EWTN News) Vatican officials requested the help of police on Jan. 14 as demonstrators attempted to set up a protest camp in St. Peter's Square.
The group “evidently wanted to use the piazza in an improper way, not in keeping with the spirit of the place and it was therefore considered just and opportune to move them out with the cooperation of the police,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told The Guardian.
The mainly French and Spanish gathering – which identified with the Spanish “indignado” protest movement – convened in the piazza to show their disapproval for tax breaks the Italian government gives the Catholic Church.
The “indignado” or “indignant heart” movement criticizes what it believes to be unequal distribution of wealth in Spain but has also spread to other European countries.
Dozens of protesters, including one dressed as Pope Benedict, came together in the square on Saturday carrying signs, shouting slogans and attempting to pitch tents.
As one demonstrator began to scale a Christmas tree, police in riot gear moved in to break up the protest. Violence broke out when police attempted to detain three protesters for identification behind the Vatican's Nativity display. Two protesters and one police officer were injured in the scuffle.