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Religious Tolerance logo


Anti-Roman Catholic violence

2019-MAR-22: Priest stabbed
during Mass at St. Joseph’s
Oratory in Montreal, Canada.
Crucifixes removal.

knife image

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On Friday, 2019-MAR-22, a tall, bearded man who appeared to be in his mid 20's stabbed Fr. Claude Grou, 77, rector of St. Joseph's Oratory during mass in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

An oratory is a term that usually refers to a small chapel. Saint Joseph's Oratory is a Roman Catholic basilica and national shrine on Mount Royal's Westmount Summit in Montreal, Quebec. It is Canada's largest church and claims to have one of the largest domes in the world. 2

The attacker used a long knife, perhaps similar to the above image, and remained silent during the incident. Security guards and some of the 60 members of the congregation who were present at mass apprehended the individual, Members of the congregation immediately started to pray for Fr. Grou.

The knife allegedly broke after Fr. Grou was slashed twice in the chest. 5

The police were informed about 8:40 AM of the attack, and arrived quickly. Fr. Grou had received only minor injuries. The arrested individual was known by the police.

The mass was being broadcast live on the Salt + Light Television Network. The video was removed after the attack.

A reporter, Dan Spector, later tweeted:

"St. Joseph's Oratory still swarming with police after a priest was stabbed in the middle of Mass this morning."

A worshipper, Adele Plamondon, who was possibly referring to the Christchurch New Zealand anti-Muslim hate-driven mass murder of 50 persons during the previous Friday said:

"Hate is all over the place right now." 1

Archbishop Christian Lépine of Montreal issued a statement:

"... Father Grou sustained injuries, but by the grace of God, his life is not in danger.

I offer my support to his family, to his congregation and to all the faithful, volunteers and employees at Saint Joseph’s Oratory. Faced with this human drama, my thoughts are also with those who were present at Mass, with the faithful from here and abroad, and all of society, because we are all affected. We are all shocked by this act of violence that has taken place in our city, in a space dedicated to peace.

We know that places of worship of many religions are targets of acts of violence. We must continue to follow the path of peace and love, believing that good will overcome evil through prayer and good works. (ref: letter to the Romans)

I would especially like to recognize the first responders, especially those who courageously protected Father Grou. I thank the police force for their timely response, the ambulance technicians for their diligence, and the support staff for their courage.

I encourage everyone to join in prayer and to remain calm. I encourage all the faithful to continue celebrating their faith as a community in their churches.

Let us pray to St. Joseph and believe in peace." 3

Archbishop Lépine's reference to "Romans" apparently refers to the biblical passage at Romans 2:6-7:

"God “will repay each person according to what they have done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. (NIV).

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The Crucifix is to be removed from Montreal City Hall and perhaps the Quebec National Assembly buildings:

Two days before the attack, a possibly related incident occurred, at a Montreal city government executive council meeting. City Councilor Laurence Lavigne-Lalonde announced that during renovations to be made to city hall, the crucifix that has been hung there since 1937 would be temporarily removed. The renovations are scheduled to begin in April, He said:

"The crucifix was installed during an era that was completely different than the one we live in today."

Mayor Valerie Plante said:

"I truly believe and based on all the discussion that has been done in the past, that it doesn't have to be in city council where it is a secular institution. This is a place where we make decisions and it was originally put there to support decision making. I think we're in a very different time now." 4

There has also been a suggestion within the Quebec government that they remove the crucifix on the wall of the National Assembly. A separate decision is expected on this crucifix during April.

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Subsequent developments on the stabbing:

Rev Claude Grou was released from hospital on Friday evening, MAR-22. In a statement he said that:

"My health is good and I'm recovering from my emotions. ... I pray that St. Joseph's Oratory will remain a place of welcome, prayer, calm and peace -- as it has been for over 100 years -- and I look forward to returning to work." 6

The next day, Vlad Cristian Eremia, 25, was charged with attempted murder and assault with a weapon.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Martin M. Barillas, "Montreal priest stabbed while celebrating Mass," Life Site News, 2019-MAR-22, at:
  2. "Saint Joseph's Oratory," Wikipedia, as on 2019-JAN-21, at:
  3. "Assault at St. Joseph's Oratory: Statement of the Archbishop," Diocese of Montreal, 2019-MAR-22, at:
  4. "City Hall crucifix to be removed," CTV News, Montreal, 2019-MAR-20, at:
  5. Dave Urbanski, "Catholic priest stabbed in Canadian church during livestreamed Mass," The Blaze, 2019-MAR-22, at:
  6. Morgan Lowrie, "26-year-old charged with attempted murder in Montreal priest stabbing," CTV News, 2019-MAR-23, at:


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Copyright © 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2019-MAR-23
Author: B.A. Robinson

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