A priest has been stabbed at the altar while celebrating Mass in Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral.

Fr Miguel Angel Machorro was stabbed three times during the attack on May 15, according to media reports. Witnesses said the attacker tried to slit the priest’s throat. Fr Machorro was rushed to hospital and underwent emergency surgery. His condition was “delicate, but stable”.

In a tweet, Mexico City Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera offered prayers for the injured priest, “so that he is healthy and returns to his normal duties”.

The suspect was arrested at the scene. Mexico City security officials said the suspect identified himself as John Rock Schild, an American citizen, “approximately 28 years old” and an artist. Some reports said that he was French.

The Metropolitan Cathedral is a popular stop for tourists. It faces Zocalo Square in central Mexico City and dates back to the 1500s. The police presence there is heavy due to the traffic and frequent protests in the vicinity. The archdiocese’s lawyer, Armando Martinez, said: “We cannot talk about terrorism, we cannot talk about motives because we obviously have no significant facts.”

More than 15 priests have been killed in Mexico in recent years, according to the country’s Catholic Multimedia Centre.

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