A man has been arrested after rushing from the back of a cathedral to the altar, where he stabbed a priest in the chest during Friday’s morning Mass.
Security guards at St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal quickly wrestled the suspected attacker to the ground after he lunged toward Father Claude Grou, rector of the oratory, according to CBC News.
Moment Catholic priest was stabbed this morning during televised mass at St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal pic.twitter.com/UKImnSnq3k
— ??????MamaReg?????? (@MamaReg2) March 22, 2019
“I saw this man coming quickly and taking his knife out and going straight for Père Grou,” congregant Adèle Plamondon recalled. “It was obvious what his intentions were. So I left screaming to alert the security.”
The priest was rushed to the hospital with minor injuries immediately after the sudden attack. Plamondon said Grou’s wounds were not that serious because the knife broke during the stabbing.
There were about 60 people in the oratory at the time of the incident.
Philip Barrett, who was attending the Mass, said Grou had just stepped behind the altar and was preparing to share the Gospel when the man stood up and ran toward the priest.
“He walked past the barrier leading into the sanctuary near the altar, and everyone was just initially wondering what was going on, and some people were starting to react a little bit,” he said. “And he walked directly behind the altar and seemed to strike the priest.”
Grou was stabbed in the chest and was stable when he was transported to the hospital, according to Benoit Garneau, a spokesperson for the first responder agency Urgences-Santé.
In a tweet Friday morning, the mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante, described the attack as “horrible and inexcusable” and an incident that “has no place in Montreal.”
Quel geste horrible et inexcusable qui n’a aucunement sa place à Montréal. Je suis soulagée d’apprendre que la vie du père Claude Grou, recteur de l’@osjmr, est hors de danger et que son état est stable. Au nom de tous les Montréalais, je lui souhaite prompt rétablissement.
— Valérie Plante (@Val_Plante) March 22, 2019
“On behalf of all Montrealers,” she continued, “I wish [Grou] speedy recovery.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also weighed in on the incident:
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