PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — A lector at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia was punched in the face by an assailant after reading Scripture during an Aug. 23 Mass.
The assault was televised as the Mass was being livestreamed on the archdiocese’s Vimeo channel and on the Facebook page of Archbishop Nelson J. Perez.
The assailant was not immediately apprehended, and Archbishop Perez, in an Aug. 23 statement, called the assault “a senseless act of aggression.”
According to published reports, as of Aug. 24 police had questioned a suspect in the attack but declined to press charges.
“Such behavior is unacceptable at all times, especially within the confines of a church building and during the celebration of the Holy Mass,” Archbishop Perez said. “I was saddened to learn of this incident and regret that it took place.”
He said the lector “received immediate attention and assistance from cathedral staff members” and did not require medical attention. He said she is “doing well based on the reports I have received.”
In the video footage of the attack, the victim, who had read the Old Testament passage, had just left the sanctuary with another lector and were just beginning to walk down the center aisle. The assailant, who was wearing a mask as is the norm for public gatherings, was standing in front of the front pew, and smacked the lector twice in the face as she passed. The attacker then walked across the center aisle and out of camera range.
Archbishop Perez said: “Violence has no place in our world and every life is a precious gift from God. Please join me in praying for everyone involved in today’s incident and for respect for our fellow brothers and sisters.”
He also said the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is “working in conjunction with police regarding the matter and will cooperate with them fully. Please be assured that there are safety and security plans in place for the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. We welcome all visitors and work to provide for their safety.”
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103