A Canadian priest was stabbed on live television during morning mass on Friday at Canada’s biggest church, in what police described as an isolated incident.
Footage broadcast on a Catholic television station showed a man, dressed in jeans and white baseball cap approach Claude Grou at St Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal and stab him in front of 60 horrified parishioners.
The vicious attacker is seen chasing the priest around the altar and standing menacingly over the 77-year-old as he falls to the ground, scattering candles and a banner, before stabbing his victim.
The suspect remained silent during the assault but appeared “very determined,” Plamondon added.
Witnesses and locals have expressed concern over if this is another example of hate crime by the far right, to disrupt peaceful nations.
Grou recovered enough to get to his feet and is seen backing away as security officers surrounded the assailant, who drops his knife. Three guards restrained him while others tended to Grou, who appeared to be in shock.
The priest was taken to the hospital, where his condition was said to be stable in condition and recovering.
What a horrible attack at Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal this morning. Father Claude Grou, Canadians are thinking of you and wishing you a swift recovery.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) March 22, 2019
The 26-year-old suspect, whose name was not released, was scheduled to appear in court on Saturday via video link from a detention facility. But the police spokesperson told news outlets he is “known to police.”
“This was an isolated attack, and there is nothing to link it to terrorism,” she added.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke out to condemn the “horrible attack” while mayor Valerie Plante called the assault an “inexcusable act that has no place in Montreal.”
“We are all in shock over this act of violence in a place dedicated to peace,” Montreal Archbishop Christian Lepine said in a statement, lamenting that places of worship could be targets of violence.
The church was cordoned off, but services resumed later in the day.
Saint Joseph’s Oratory, built from 1920 to 1955, sits atop the north face of Mount Royal overlooking Canada’s second-largest city and attracts more than two million pilgrims and tourists each year.
The national shrine was founded by Brother Andre Bessette, a central religious figure among French-Canadians, who was canonized by Pope Benedict in 2010 for his devotion to the sick and disabled.
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