MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Police in northwest Indiana say an attack on a Catholic priest has been forwarded to the FBI as a possible hate crime because the assailant referred to reports of clergy sex abuse involving children.

Merrillville Detective Cmdr. Jeff Rice says the Rev. Basil John Hutsko was assaulted Monday morning at St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church. Rice says the 64-year-old priest was taken to a hospital for treatment. His condition was unknown Tuesday.

Pope Francis issued a letter Monday condemning priestly sexual abuse and its cover-up. Also, a Pennsylvania grand jury last week reported about 300 priests abused at least 1,000 children over the past 70 years.

Hutsko isn't named in the report.

Gary diocesan spokeswoman Debbie Bosak tells the Post-Tribune clergy are aware of the attack and will take precautions.