Elderly man attacks Indian priest in Australia
Attacker overheard making racist comments before stabbing priest in neck at Melbourne church
St. Matthew’s Parish Church in Fawkner. (Photo by Google Maps)
A Catholic priest is recovering in hospital after an elderly man pulled out a knife and stabbed the 48-year-old in front of shocked worshippers in Melbourne's northern suburbs.
Father Tomy Mathew was about to begin the 11 a.m. Italian mass at St Matthew's Catholic Church on March 19 when the man approached with what was believed to be a kitchen knife, The Age newspaper reported.
The priest had been in the foyer when the man attacked, police said.
A woman, who didn't want to be identified, said there were chaotic scenes when the stabbing occurred.
"There was some shouting and lots of movement in the back of the church," she said.
"I saw Father Tomy coming to approach me and he sort of waved me over.
"He asked if I could look at his neck. He said, 'I've just been stabbed.' As I removed some of his garment I could see quite a bit of blood."
The man had been asking to see Father Tomy in the days before the attack, according to parishioners, but was not a member of the congregation.
Church officials have been told that the attacker was overhead saying something derogatory to Father Tomy before he was stabbed, something to the effect of him being Indian and that meant he was a Muslim or Hindu and shouldn't be saying Mass.
The church opened again on late Sunday afternoon for a Syro-Malabar Indian community service.
A 72-year-old man was arrested late March 19 night and later charged with intentionally and recklessly causing injury.
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