Indian Catholic priest stabbed in Australia
Melbourne: A Catholic priest from India was stabbed in the neck in front of horrified worshipers during a Sunday morning church service on March 19 in Melbourne, Australia.
The attack took place when Father Tomy Kalathoor Mathew was about to start 11 am Mass (5:30 am India time) in Italian at St Matthew’s Church in Fawkner North. The unidentified man approached the 48-year-old priest and allegedly told him, “You are Indian, a Hindu or Muslim, you cannot say Mass… I will kill you.”
They began to argue and the man produced a kitchen knife from his pants and stabbed the priest in the neck in front of dozens of parishioners.
Several people tried to restrain the attacker, but he broke free and fled the scene. The offender is described as an Italian man in his 50s of thin build and was last seen wearing grey clothing.
Rev Mathew, who hails from Kerala in southern India, was not seriously injured but was rushed to hospital after the congregation in the church gave him first aid.
The police, who have taken one man into custody, are yet to confirm if it was a case of racist abuse.
Meanwhile, reports quoted witnesses as saying that the attacker was also seen last weekend at the church arguing with the 48-year-old priest, dailymail.co.uk reported.
“At this stage it is too early to tell (motive) and the investigation is ongoing,” Detective Senior Constable Rhiannon Norton said at a press conference.
Father Mathew has been the parish priest of St Matthew’s since late 2014. He was well-liked by the parishioners, who were shocked by the attack.