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Two assaulted by intruder at Synod service

07 July 2013


Disruption: a man is restrained by David Smith, a member of the Archbishop of York's staff, and police, outside York Minster, on Sunday morning

Disruption: a man is restrained by David Smith, a member of the Archbishop of York's staff, and police, outside York Minster, on Sunday morning

A MAN has been arrested after two people were assaulted in York Minster on Sunday at the start of the sung eucharist for members of the General Synod.

The congregation heard shouting and the sounds of a struggle as the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, other clergy, Synod officials, and choir began their procession at the start of the service.

The service itself went ahead without a delay, but the Archbishop of Canterbury struggled to make himself heard for the first few minutes as shouting continued from the rear of the Minster.

Church officials later said that a man had attacked a cathedral steward after being asked to wait until the procession had passed before entering the cathedral. A member of the Archbishop of York's staff, Dave Smith, intervened, and he too was attacked. Mr Smith managed to tackle the attacker to the ground and then sat on him until officers from the Minster's in-house constabulary and the North Yorkshire Police arrived. A man was arrested on suspicion of assault; before being bound by his arms and feet and carried to a waiting police van.

Both the steward and Mr Smith received first aid from paramedics at the Minster before returning for the rest of the service. During the sharing of the Peace, Archbishop Welby went to the Minster entrance to speak with those who had been involved in the incident.

Arun Arora, director of communications for the Archbishops' Council, said: "The incident was not linked to a protest, but was a case of a disturbed individual."

During his sermon, the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, joked about his recent stay in hospital for prostate cancer treatment. The hospital chaplain tried to visit Dr Sentamu, but was told by nurses that he would need the Archbishop's permission, especially as he was listed as "John Sentamu - religion unknown."

It transpired that hospital staff had listed him in this way to protect his identity, but Dr Sentamu said: "I chuckled to myself. Had I died during the operation, heaven would have responded, 'Return to Sender: Religion Unknown.'"

He said: "As we look to the east to declare our faith, so I believe that the sun is always rising on the Church, and in particular, on the Church of England. And I believe that there will be joy in the morning for the Church, because I believe that the Church is always rising, too: it is rising in the power of the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, rising to answer the call of Christ together, to make him visible, to prepare his way and proclaim God's kingdom."

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