BROOKLYN – Last Sunday, a man entered St. Anthony of Padua in Brooklyn. During the prayers of consecration, he walked up to the altar and poured juice onto the altar.
Then, he splashed the juice at Father Jossy Vattothu, staining his vestments.
In an official press release, the Diocese of Brooklyn called the act a “heinous act of religious intolerance.”
The Diocese of Brooklyn released the official video footage of the altar desecration this week.
The incident was reported to the New York Police Department’s 94th Precinct, who responded to the event and arrested the suspect, who had been detained by parishioners.
The thirty-three year old man was taken to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation after his arrest.
“During my years as a priest, nothing like this has ever happened. At first, as he approached the altar, I thought he had something to tell me. It is a miracle that the bread and wine were not damaged, and I was able to continue the Mass, consecrating the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ,” said Father Vattothu in the official statement released by the Diocese of Brooklyn today.
“I pray for this person and do not know what was going through his mind. I am grateful for the parishioners who were so caring and consoled me after Mass. I would urge Catholics who attend mass to sit closer to the altar so that we as a faith community can be more together and make the priest feel more comfortable,” Father Vattothu concluded.
Father Vattothu recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. He is a priest of the order of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate assigned to the Diocese of Brooklyn.
“It’s really egregious that somebody would do that at the most sacred part of the Catholic Mass, which is the consecration. I think right now, people are scared given the current environment of anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic incidents. People are afraid to go to their house of worship,” said Monsignor Anthony Hernandez, Chancellor of the Diocese of Brooklyn in the same diocesan statement.