A 70-year-old priest in Venice claims to have been subjected to threats and physical assault from a gang of migrant youths after he confronted their aggressive behaviour.
Don Roberto Trevisol, the parish priest of San Giorgio Martire di Chirignago, wrote about his experiences in a parochial newsletter describing the almost daily occurrences of vandalism in and around the church, Il Giornale reports.
The 70-year-old claimed that a gang of migrant youths, from Albania and Serbia, were behind the incidents and that they had tried multiple times to break into the church, damaging tiles on the roof.
He eventually managed to catch the youths in the process of vandalism and initially told them off and tried to detain the leader of the gang until the police could arrive.
Later that same day, he caught another group of youths and tried to shout at them to get them to leave but was met with a punch to the face by one of the gang members. While trying to follow the youths, Trevisol claims they insulted him calling him a “paedophile priest of shit”.
Greek Priest Beaten by Syrian Migrants in Front of His Own Church https://t.co/nQsR4kjbor
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“As I continue to follow him he shouts to me: ‘But do you know that I come from Albania?’. And then suddenly he strikes me with two powerful slaps that break my glasses and make me lose a lens,” Trevisol said.
“Faced with these facts one can. One: Be happy and say, poor boys … Two: Be cowardly and look away … Three: Be determined to demand respect for oneself and for everyone, even if it means being threatened, offended and eventually beaten. I stand for the third option,” he added.
The incident comes only months after a similar case in Greece in which an Orthodox priest was beaten by Syrian migrants in front of his church in Athens.
So-called “baby gangs” have become a major problem in Italy with one underage gang torturing a and beating man in his 60s for months before finally killing him earlier this year in April.