April 4th, 2010
03:17 PM ET

Broomstick-wielding attacker disrupts German Easter Mass

A broomstick-wielding former mental patient charged the altar at a Roman Catholic cathedral in Munster, Germany, on Sunday, knocking the church's Easter candle to the ground before the congregation subdued him, police said. The incident occurred as Munster Bishop Felix Genn and other clergy were starting services in the city's 13th-century cathedral. The 44-year-old suspect was "unresponsive" after his arrest, according to a police statement, and his motive was unclear.

"Whether or not an attack upon the bishop was planned is, with our information at this point, speculative," the police statement read. "At this time, aside from the circumstance that he turned to the bishop after the attack on the Easter candle, there is no objective indication that representatives of the church or attendees were to be attacked."

The attack comes as Catholic leaders in Germany, the homeland of Pope Benedict XVI, are facing questions about how they handled claims of child abuse by priests. Tuesday, the diocese announced that Genn had suspended a priest in Selm after learning that the pastor had been accused of sexually abusing minors, a report that is currently under investigation by the church.

During Sunday's service, the man began running toward the altar with a roughly 1-meter (3.25-foot) length of broomstick and "waved it wildly about," police said.

He then knocked down the candle, which is used to symbolize the resurrected Jesus in Christian tradition, and turned toward the priests before being grabbed by parishioners and church representatives.

Police said the suspect had attempted suicide in April 2009 and "allegedly has been a patient in psychiatric clinics."

He was taken to a clinic for examination after his arrest, and the Mass went forward, police said.

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Filed under: Church Abuse • Germany
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Pope Foolish

    I'm wondering if this was not a one act play created by the church.

    April 4, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ellen Bennett

    They should have used a broomstick against all the priests, pope, cardinals..... I don't think the person was mentally ill. I survived sexual abuse by the man lliving next door to my parents. I threw a party when he DIED. Does that make me anymore mentally ill than the perps?

    April 4, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |