Cranberra: In a suspected racist attack, an Indian priest was stabbed inside a church in Melbourne in Australia right in front of worshippers who had assembled for Sunday morning mass.
Tomy Kalathoor Mathew, 48, a native of Anakkampoyil in Kozhikode district, was stabbed at around 11 am Australian time by a man at St Matthew’s Church in Fawkner, a northern suburb of Melbourne. The attack took place when the priest was about to begin the Italian mass.
According to Australian media, who quoted church officials, the assailant yelled “You are Indian, a Hindu or Muslim, you cannot say mass, I will kill you”. The man reportedly approached Mathew, pulled out a knife and stabbed the priest in the neck in front of dozens of parishioners. Though some people tried to restrain the attacker, he broke free and fled the scene.
Bishop Mar Remigiose Inchananiyil of Thamarassery diocese spoke to the injured priest over phone. “It was a miraculous escape. Tomy Kalathoor Mathew said that he could escape from the knife attack only due to God’s grace as he had worn special robes for the mass in addition to thick clothes. The knife didn’t go deep and just injured the neck muscles,”
Abraham Kavilpurayidathil, chancellor and spokesperson of Thamarassery diocese, told said
Mathew was rushed to Northern Hospital and treated for a wound to his neck. He was later discharged. Police on Sunday night arrested a 72-year-old Fawkner man, believed to be of Italian origin.
Mathew has been parish priest of the Melbourne church since late 2014 and Thamarassery diocese authorities said he would continue his duty as priest at that church. Mathew belongs to Kalathoor family of Karimbu in Anakkampoyil and became a priest under Thamarassery diocese in 1994. He had served as vicar at churches in Adakkakundu, Vettilappara, Kallurutti and Chundathumpoyil and worked as a teacher at Alphonsa School in Thamarassery.