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Catholic priest stabbed in Canadian church during livestreamed Mass


'It happened so quickly there was almost no time to react'

Image source: CTV video screenshot

A Catholic priest's life is "not in danger" after he was stabbed Friday morning during a livestreamed Mass in a Montreal church, CTV News reported.

What happened?

Father Claude Grou, rector of Saint Joseph's Oratory, was celebrating Mass for about 50 worshipers when a man wearing a dark coat and light-colored baseball cap pulled out a large knife, walked in front of the altar, and ran up the steps toward the priest, the outlet said.

Image source: CTV video screenshot

Grou began moving away as the attacker knocked over a candle, CTV said, but video shows the man catching up to the priest, pushing him to the ground before appearing to stab him.

Image source: CTV video screenshot

The outlet said the attacker dropped the knife and stood up as people in the pews ran toward him, and that three men restrained the attacker while others helped Grou, who stood up on his own.

Image source: CTV video screenshot

Here's a CTV report that includes clips of the attack. The Mass was livestreamed by the Catholic network Salt + Light Television, which removed the video after the attack, the outlet said:

What happened to the priest?

Paramedics treated the Grou for minor injuries to his upper body at the scene, CTV reported. The oratory said in a tweet just before noon Friday that Grou's life was "not in danger." CBC reported that he was stabbed in the chest.

Father Claude GrouImage source: YouTube screenshot

Adèle Plamondon was just finishing the day's reading and saw the attacker go after Grou, CBC noted, adding that she spoke to the priest before he was taken to a hospital. Plamondon told CBC that Grou was slashed twice and was in shock but seemed to be OK otherwise — and that his wounds were superficial because the knife broke.

Dinh Khoi Vu, who directed the Mass for Salt + Light Television, told the Dialog that Grou "left the oratory sitting in a wheelchair" and received applause.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Montreal said in a tweet Grou's condition was "stable," CTV said, adding that he's in his late 70s and has been at Saint Joseph's Oratory for more than 20 years.

What happened to the attacker?

Montreal police said a suspect has been arrested and was taken to the station for questioning, CTV reported. The motive for the attack remains unknown, the Dialog reported.

What else?

CTV said a witness, Philip Barrett, told the Canadian Press that he was sitting near the front of the church when he saw the suspect — who appeared to be a white and in his 30s — rise from a pew and approach Grou.

"I do remember the priest was moving away from the man, but it happened so quickly there was almost no time to react," Barrett said, according to the outlet, adding that the knife-wielding man didn't speak or call out during the attack and didn't struggle after being subdued.

Plamondon volunteers at the Oratory every Friday and told Global News she thought that attacker "was going to kneel in front of the Saint Joseph statue."

Police got the call about the attack about 8:40 a.m., CTV said, and church security detained the man until officers arrived.

CTV added that the oratory won't be closed Friday despite the attack, although the the lower church — the site of the incident — remains closed as police conduct an investigation.

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