Man desecrates altar during Sunday Mass in Brooklyn

GREENPOINT, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Parishioners detained a man until police arrived after he desecrated the altar during Mass at St. Anthony of Padua in Brooklyn on Sunday.

The incident happened as Father Jossy Vattothu prepared communion during the Mass.

Authorities said the 33-year-old suspect poured juice on the altar and tossed some at the priest.

"During my years as a priest, nothing like this has ever happened," Fr. Vattothu said. "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."

Officers from the 94th Precinct responded to the church on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint and took the man into custody.

"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. "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."

EMS transported the individual to Woodhull Hospital for evaluation.

The victim declined to prosecute at the time of incident.

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