Man tosses juice on priest and altar during Greenpoint mass

January 14, 2020 Meaghan McGoldrick
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A man was arrested after throwing juice on an altar and at a priest during a Sunday morning mass in Greenpoint, according to the Diocese of Brooklyn.

The Dioceses on Tuesday released a video of the incident, which they say occurred during the 9:30 a.m. mass at St. Anthony of Padua on Jan. 12. In the video, a man is seen approaching the altar during mass and pouring juice on it. He is also seen tossing some at Father Jossy Vattothu, the priest leading Sunday’s mass.

“During my years as a priest, nothing like this has ever happened,” Vattothu said in a statement. “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.”

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Vattothu, who recently celebrated his 10th year as a priest, is urging parishioners to come together, and sit closer to the altar.

“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,” he said. “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.”

The NYPD’s 94th Precinct responded quickly, according to the Diocese, and the suspect, who was detained by church attendees, was reportedly arrested. Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment and it remains unclear whether or not the incident is being investigated as a hate crime.

Monsignor Anthony Hernandez, chancellor of the Diocese of Brooklyn, said the incident hits a little too close to home as the city struggles to combat a recent spike in anti-Semitism, and other hate crimes, across the five boroughs.

“It’s really egregious that somebody would do that at the most sacred part of the Catholic Mass, which is the consecration,” he said. “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.”

In 2019, there were 15 hate crime-related arrests within the 94th Precinct, where Sunday’s desecration occurred, according to NYPD data.

The church, located at 862 Manhattan Ave., is especially poignant to the neighborhood. The red-brick church with stone trim, was designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1982. The church, whose cornerstone was laid in 1873, is located at the foot of Milton Street in the Greenpoint Historic District.

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  1. apotropoxy

    What charges is this man being held on; trespassing, assault, vagrancy? While laws against desecration of cemeteries exist, does NY have laws against this? My guess is that this man is either mentally ill or his act amounted to a statement against the Church.