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Woman who punched reader at Mass in Philadelphia reportedly unfit to be charged

Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia Credit Marcela via Flickr CC BY 20 CNA The Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. / Marcela via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

The woman who yelled at a lector and punched her twice during Mass at the Philadelphia cathedral is not mentally fit to be prosecuted, a local journalist reported Monday.

Joe Holden, an anchor and reporter for CBS3 Philadelphia, tweeted Aug. 24 that police had apprehended the woman believed to have punched Sarah Contrucci, “But it was announced tonight charges wouldn’t be pressed, sources say, because the woman is not mentally fit to face prosecution.”

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">POLICE APPREHENDED THE WOMAN SUSPECTED OF PUNCHING A LECTOR AT THE CATHEDRAL ON SUNDAY. But it was announced tonight charges wouldn’t be pressed, sources say, because the woman is not mentally fit to face prosecution.<a href="https://t.co/4vfHbpGsUN">https://t.co/4vfHbpGsUN</a></p>&mdash; Joe Holden (@JoeHoldenCBS3) <a href="https://twitter.com/JoeHoldenCBS3/status/1298105770777731073?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 25, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Holden also wrote that “the woman was questioned but police declined to file charges.”

During the 11 a.m. Mass on Aug. 23 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, two female readers concluded their readings and were walking back to their pews, when a woman from the congregation assaulted one of them, yelling and punching her twice in the face. The attack was seemingly unprovoked.

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Contrucci told CBS3 she had not before seen her attacker, and that the woman mumbled “something about respecting God” while hitting her.

According to Kenneth Gavin, chief communications officer for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Contrucci did not know the woman who attacked her, and “it is unclear what precipitated the assault.”

Gavin added that “there are safety and security plans in place for the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and it is a safe place to visit and to worship.”

Archbishop Nelson Perez of Philadephia said Aug. 23, “Such behavior is unacceptable at all times, especially within the confines of a church building and during the celebration of the Holy Mass. I was saddened to learn of this incident and regret that it took place.”

He noted that Contrucci “received immediate attention and assistance from Cathedral staff members … she did not require medical attention and is doing well based on the reports I have received.”

“Violence has no place in our world and every life is a precious gift from God,” the archbishop added. “Please join me in praying for everyone involved in today’s incident and for respect for our fellow brothers and sisters.”

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