A Catholic priest was strangled on his altar as he finished saying mass by a man who screamed ‘This is for all the kids.’
Rev. Basil Hutsko was rushed to hospital after being chocked, beaten to the ground and knocked unconscious at St. Michael’s Byzantine Church in Merrilville, Indiana, as he finished his service on Monday.
Rev Hutsko’s friend the Rev Thomas Loya told WGN9: “(He said) the attacker grabbed him, choked him and threw him to the ground and knocked him unconscious.
‘He was wearing gloves. Father Basil does not know who it was, but while he was attacking him, he heard the attacker say, “This is for all the kids.”‘
The remark is believed to have been referring to the latest Catholic sex abuse scandal sweeping Pennsylvania, which saw 300 priests accuse over a thousand children for decades.
But Hutsko has never been accused of any such abuse, with Loya added:
‘He’s a very dedicated priest and hardworking and in good standing, it’s just a random act of an innocent priest.’
Hutsko is currently undergoing tests to establish the extent of his injuries, with Loya saying he and other innocent priests have been on their guard since the abuse scandal broke last week.
Rev Fr. Loya said of the Catholic sex abuse scandal: “The stories are very ugly, you know, let’s face it, and very unbecoming of the church so I can see where some people might become enraged, but at the same time people get enraged and do this to an innocent priest and that’s not going to help or solve anything.”
The FBI are now probing the attack on Hutsko as a hate crime, but have yet to make any arrests.