'You are my son': Stabbed Sydney bishop forgives attacker

Mar Mari Emmanuel called for calm after the stabbing sparked angry scenes outside the church

By AFP

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An attacker approaches Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel during a church service at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley, Sydney, Australia April 15, 2024. — Reuters file
An attacker approaches Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel during a church service at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley, Sydney, Australia April 15, 2024. — Reuters file

Published: Thu 18 Apr 2024, 2:25 PM

Last updated: Thu 18 Apr 2024, 2:26 PM

A Sydney bishop brutally stabbed during a live-streamed sermon said Thursday he is recovering and forgives his attacker, declaring: "You are my son."

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was slashed in the head and chest by a 16-year-old suspect on Monday, sparking a riot by followers of the Assyrian Christian church in western Sydney.


"I am doing fine, recovering very quickly," said the bishop of Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley.

The area is a hub for Sydney's small Christian Assyrian community, many of whom fled persecution and war in Iraq and Syria.


Emmanuel has an online following of almost 200,000, galvanising many with his criticism of Covid-19 vaccines and lockdowns as well as Islam.

"There is no need to be worried or concerned," the bishop said in a YouTube video released Thursday, with audio of his voice accompanied by a photo of him in vestments.

"I forgive whoever has done this act and I say to him: You are my son, I love you and I will always pray for you. And whoever sent you to do this, I forgive them as well."

The teenage suspect was taken to a Sydney hospital after the attack.

Senior police said mid-week his treatment was expected to last for several days.

The bishop called for calm after the stabbing sparked angry scenes outside the church.

Hundreds of congregants and members of the community rushed to the site on the night of the attack.

Some hurled rocks and other projectiles that allegedly wounded police and damaged 50 police cars.

About 30 people were injured in the riot, including one police officer with a broken jaw.

"I want you to always be calm," the bishop said.

"We need to be always law-abiding citizens as well. We need to cooperate with the police directives whether it be at a state level or a federal level," he said.

"We should never forget that we are very blessed to be Aussies, but above all we are Christians and we need to act like it."

A western Sydney doctor who is in contact with the teenager's family told AFP they were in "shock" and "in disbelief about the horrible action their son has done".

Jamal Rifi said the family had also been shocked at how quickly the event had been labelled a "terrorist" act, without speaking to the boy or his family first.

The boy's mother told Rifi her son had anger and mental health issues.

Rifi said Australia was a diverse community and despite the differences in culture and faith, he had been reassured that so many had called for calm and denounced any retaliation attempts.

"Reciprocal respect is the core that preserves social cohesion," he said.

Police charged a 19-year-old man Wednesday in connection with the violence outside the church and have warned more will be arrested in the coming days.


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