PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A woman is caught on camera socking a lector in the face during mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. The disturbing act of violence took place in the sanctuary while the 11 a.m. service was being livestreamed. The suspect remains at large.
Parishioners inside the cathedral witnessed the attack as well as thousands of people who were watching it on the livestream. Those who regularly attend mass there say they have seen the woman at the cathedral in recent weeks, but the rector says he doesn’t recognize her.
It was an act that sent shock and horror through the pews at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul during the 11 a.m. mass on Sunday.
This morning, as the 11am Mass inside the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul was in progress, the lector was attacked after stepping out of the sanctuary. @ArchbishopPerez says she is ok and police are investigating. Unclear if police have any leads. @CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/baE0G6O6pY
— Joe Holden (@JoeHoldenCBS3) August 23, 2020
A woman dressed in green was captured on the livestream punching a lector twice as she walked back to her pew.
“What happened this morning during our 11 o’clock solemn mass was quite disturbing, should have never happened,” Father Dennis Gill said.
Gill says the woman ran out of the cathedral and the incident was promptly handled off-camera. He added that the lector is doing well.
Any information on the assault that occurred inside Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral today at approx 11am, contact Central Detectives at 215-686-3093/3094 OR Tip Line. pic.twitter.com/TpLxHY1EUK
— Frank X. Banford (@PPDFrankBanford) August 23, 2020
“She was very brave, she handled it in a very mature way and she did not require any medical attention,” Gill said. “She is fine, thank God.”
While police investigated the incident, congregants continued to stop in. Many attended the 6:30 p.m. mass, where Gill addressed what happened.
“I am a lector sometimes at the cathedral I’ve seen other outbursts like this, but they’ve never been violent,” a man said. “Hope nothing like this happens again.”
“It’s just something that shouldn’t happen in the house of worship,” Tom Sabol said. “Regardless of your beliefs, your religion, your creed, whatever. That shouldn’t go on there at all.”
Archbishop Nelson Perez posted a statement on his Facebook page which reads, in part, “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. Violence has no place in our world and every life is a precious gift from God.”
Gill says the archdiocese will hold a meet on Monday morning to address security at the cathedral. He believes that extra security is necessary in these times.