After a string of alleged hate crimes against India nationals in the US, a Catholic priest of Indian-origin was stabbed with a knife by a man in Melbourne city, Australia. The priest, Tomy Kalathoor Mathew, 48, was preparing to deliver the Sunday mass at St. Matthew’s Parish at Fawkner suburb, when a man stabbed him with a knife, reportedly saying that he is not qualified to lead the service as, being Indian origin, he must be a Hindu or a Muslim. Mathew was stabbed in the left side of neck, before he was taken to Northern Hospital where he is undergoing treatment.
The local churchgoers expressed shocked at the incident. “There was some shouting and a lot of movement at the back of the church and then I saw Father Tommy coming to approach me. He waved me over and asked me if I could look at his neck because he said ‘I’ve just been stabbed’,” one of the parishioners, Melina, was quoted by local media. Another parishioner, who did not wish to be named, told local media that she called for the ambulance and tried to chase the attacker, but did not go too close. “I didn’t get too close because I didn’t know if he still had the knife,” she said.
Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne spokesman Shane Healy also expressed shock over the stabbing, describing the incident as “appalling”. “People should never be treated like this. He is doing wonderful work for his parishioners and this is really a blight on the great work that many, many Catholic priests are doing,” he said.
The eyewitnesses to the incident reportedly claimed that the accused was trying to meet Mathew even before the incident for a long time. The police arrested a 72-year-old man from Fawkner on charges of intentionally and recklessly causing injury. The accused was later given bail to appear in Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court on June 13. “At this stage, we believe the incident is isolated. There’s nothing to suggest he’s a danger to anyone else,” Detective Senior Constable Rhiannon Norton told reporters.
Father Tomy Mathew suffered minor upper-body injuries and remains in a stable condition at The Northern Hospital. Vicar General Monsignor Greg Bennet said the priest was doing well in the hospital and wanted to get back to work soon.