Jan. 14, 2020 By Allie Griffin
A 33-year-old man desecrated a Catholic church in Greenpoint Sunday when he poured juice over the altar and then threw some at the priest.
The man, who was caught by police after being detained by parishioners, walked up to the altar during the 9:30 a.m. mass at St. Anthony of Padua, located at 862 Manhattan Ave., and poured juice on the altar and splashed some at the priest.
The liquid stained the priest’s garments and damaged a bible, police said.
Church attendees grabbed the man and held him until police arrived. Police took the perpetrator to Woodhull Hospital for evaluation and he has yet to be charged, police said.
The priest, Father Jossy Vattothu, said he first thought the man was coming up to the altar to ask him a question. He said he was taken by surprise when the man began tossing juice.
“During my years as a priest, nothing like this has ever happened,” Father Vattothu said. “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.”
He said that he was thankful for the parishioners who consoled him and urged Catholics to sit closer to the altar during mass to make the officiating priest feel more comfortable.
“I pray for this person and do not know what was going through his mind,” Father Vattothu said.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn denounced the incident as an act of religious intolerance and noted that the incident took place during the consecration, a sacred part of the service.
“It’s really egregious that somebody would do that at the most sacred part of the Catholic Mass, which is the consecration,” said Monsignor Anthony Hernandez, Chancellor of the Diocese of Brooklyn.
The Diocese released a video of the desecration.
“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.”