(TMU) — Video of a woman shoving a Brazilian priest off a stage has gone viral, with many speculating about the motive for the sudden attack.
The priest, Father Marcello Rossi of the Roman Catholic Church, is famous among Brazilians for his prolific online presence, where he broadcasts his religious sermons. He is also a musician who has reportedly sold millions of musical albums in Latin America, earning himself the title “pop-star priest” from Associated Press.
In the video, a woman—who remains unidentified—can be seen running past security before pushing Father Rossi off the stage as over 50,000 people gathered for the closing ceremony of mass in the Canção Nova Catholic community of Cachoeira Paulista, São Paulo. During the attack, the woman can be seen wearing a broad smile.
Despite a seemingly violent fall, the priest was not seriously injured and quickly returned to the stage before completing his sermon.
Brazilian news magazine Veja reported that Rossi referenced the attack after returning the stage, according to Newsweek. Rossi said:
“It hurt, but pay close attention. I was just going to talk about pain but I did not imagine it was going to be like this.”
Brazilian news website G1 reported that the unnamed 32-year-old woman had traveled to the event from Rio de Janeiro. Police believe that she may suffer from a mental illness such as bipolar disorder, and has given contradictory explanations as to her intentions. Rossi has not yet pressed charges.
Footage of the attack quickly went viral, with many speculating as to the motive of the woman’s attack—with some online users seemingly fabricating her reason for launching the attack.
In one viral Facebook video, the attack was attributed to the priest having said “fat women can’t get into heaven.” The video’s caption has since been edited to remove the accusation of fat-shaming.
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Mulher empurra @padremarcelorossi ao vivo no canal Canção Nova do YouTube. Em nota, a emissora informou que está tudo bem com o padre e que a moça foi detida pela polícia. “Uma fiel empurrou do palco o padre Marcelo Rossi durante uma missa em Cachoeira Paulista neste domingo (14). A mulher furou a segurança, invadiu o palco durante a celebração que acontecia na Canção Nova e empurrou o padre de cima da estrutura. Apesar da queda, ele não ficou ferido e a mulher foi contida pela Polícia Militar.” Mais detalhes sobre o que aconteceu com a mulher você confere clicando no link da bio ou dos stories. Video: @audienciacarioca
In web posts from the LGBTQ+ community, some online users speculated that the priest was shoved off the stage due to his infamous history of agitating against gay people.
As Queerty notes:
“Rossi has made numerous anti-gay statements throughout his career. In November 1998, he said, ‘A lot of ideas will change the day homosexuality is proven to be an illness.’ In a 2014 interview, he said, ‘Sex between man causes pain, if something causes pain, it can’t be a good thing.’ He has also opposed same-sex marriage because, ‘The word of God is clear that man and woman were created to unite and bear fruit.’”
However, there has been no indication that there was any motive behind the attack.
In a brief statement, Canção Nova noted its regret over the incident and said:
“The priest is well. He was attended by the medical staff at the event and presided over the celebration to the end.”