Priest stabbed during mass at St. Joseph's Oratory
A priest was stabbed Friday morning while saying mass at St. Joseph's Oratory — an incident which was broadcast live on cable TV.
Montreal police say at around 8:40 a.m., a man walked up to the altar at the Oratory's century-old Crypt Church, walked behind the altar, and attacked the priest with a large knife, while a horrified congregation of about 50 people looked on. It appears the knife broke after the suspect lunged at the priest the first time.
Security officials at the Oratory immediately jumped the attacker, who was held until police arrived to take him into custody.
Montreal's Catholic archdiocese named the priest as Fr. Claude Grou, the Oratory's rector.
A spokesperson for the Oratory says Fr. Grou was conscious when he was taken to hospital. Police say his injuries are not life-threatening, and the Oratory says his condition is stable. Late Friday afternoon, a statement from the Oratory suggested he would be released from hospital shortly.
Police say the attacker is a 26-year-old man. They don't know what motivated him as yet.
He's due to appear in court on Saturday.
The attack was broadcast on the Oratory's livestream, which was also carried on the religious cable television channel Sel et Lumière, which immediately cut the broadcast.
"What a horrible and inexcusable act that has absolutely no place in Montreal," tweeted Montreal mayor Valerie Plante. "I'm relieved to learn that Fr. Claude Grou, the rector at St. Joseph's Oratory, is out of danger and that his condition is stable. In the name of all Montrealers, I wish him a speedy recovery."
Adele Plamondon was in the Oratory for mass and noticed the man sitting in the back row during mass before he got up and began walking around. At first, she thought he was going up to kneel and pray, but then she saw the man pull a knife.
"I ran out of the church screaming to alert the security and Fr, Grou at the same time ran out the stairs to come with me in the sacristy but he didn't get there," said Plamondon. "I saw the assailant on the floor after and he was peaceful, he was okay. There were two men over him and that's it."
The Crypt Church was closed for the rest of Friday, but is expected to reopen for services on Saturday.
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