Assyrian bishop, priest stabbed during church service in Australia by black-clad assailant

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel is stabbed by a black-clad assailant while delivering a sermon at Christ the Good Shepherd Assyrian Orthodox Church outside Sydney, Australia.
Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel is stabbed by a black-clad assailant while delivering a sermon at Christ the Good Shepherd Assyrian Orthodox Church outside Sydney, Australia. | YouTube/Christ the Good Shepherd Church

Editor's note: This article contains embedded videos that show violence. 

Police in Sydney, Australia, arrested a 15-year-old young man Monday for allegedly stabbing a priest and three others during a service at an Orthodox Assyrian Church.

Police were called to the area of Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley at approximately 7:10 p.m. local time following reports of multiple stabbing victims, according to New South Wales (NSW) Police.

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Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was preaching when the black-clad assailant approached him and began stabbing at his head and upper body, according to a livestream of the service that aired on the church's YouTube and subsequently went viral on social media after the incident.

Three others, including Father Isaac Royel, were injured as they tried to stop the stabbing. All received care at the scene and were taken to a hospital, though no one experienced life-threatening injuries, according to authorities.

NSW Police, who noted in a press release at 12:34 a.m. local time that their operation had concluded, said they arrested a man at the scene and moved him to an undisclosed location. He was seen smiling as he was restrained by a parishioner in the church, according to footage on X.

Police did not immediately release the identity of the assailant but noted that he was only 15 years old and that he experienced serious hand injuries, according to Agence France-Presse.

A photo circulated on X appeared to show that some of his fingers had been cut off.

Tense protests erupted outside the church following the incident, prompting hundreds of officers to respond, including tactical police and armored vehicles. Riot police ultimately dispersed the crowd with tear gas and established a perimeter around the church, according to The Telegraph.

Law enforcement asked the media not to publicize the location where the suspect remains in custody to prevent further protests, according to The Associated Press.

The church urged calm in a statement released on social media following the attack.

"We ask for your prayers at this time," the statement said. "It is the Bishop's and the Father's wishes that you also pray for the perpetrator. We also kindly ask anyone at the Church premises to leave in peace, as our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, teaches us."

New South Wales Premier Chris Minns condemned the attack, calling the scene "disturbing."

"My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and first responders who are working to keep us safe," he said in a statement. "It's important that the community remain calm and continue to listen and act to the directions of police and emergency services."

Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone, who heads the nearby municipal government, described the situation as "very emotional" and urged everyone to "stay calm," according to local 9News.

The Assyrian Orthodox Church, pockets of which are in the Sydney area and comprised of Christians who have fled the violence in the Middle East, remains in its Lenten season in anticipation of Easter Sunday, which the Eastern Church celebrates this year on May 5.

Emmanuel has a sizable following on social media and drew attention during the COVID-19 pandemic for criticizing the government's lockdowns as "mass slavery" and expressing skepticism regarding the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, according to The Daily Mail.

COVID-19 lockdown measures in New South Wales were especially strict, with NSW Police issuing more than 60,000 fines for alleged violations between March 2020 and September 2022, including to children.

The church stabbing comes days after Joel Cauchi, a 40-year-old man with a history of mental illness, allegedly stabbed six women and children at the Westfield shopping complex in the Sydney suburb of Bondi Junction on Saturday, according to The Guardian.

Jon Brown is a reporter for The Christian Post. Send news tips to

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