Church Attack: “A Very Distressing Time” - Hope 103.2

Church Attack: “A Very Distressing Time”

Police issue a stark warning in the aftermath of a stabbing of a Christian bishop, just days after the Bondi Junction massacre.

By Mike CrooksTuesday 16 Apr 2024NewsReading Time: 4 minutes

The stabbing of a bishop in Sydney’s west last night has been declared a terrorist attack by NSW Police.

Key Points:

  • A 16-year-old boy allegedly stabbed Bishop Mar Marie Emmanuel at the Christ of Good Shepherd Church in Wakely on Monday night, yelling “Allahu Akbar”.
  • After the stabbing, an angry crowd of up to 500 people “converged on that area and began to turn on police,” Commissioner Webb said.
  • “There is no place for violence in our community. There’s no place for violent extremism. We’re a peace-loving nation,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.
  • Saint Andrews Cathedral is hosting a “service of solemn prayer” at 6pm tonight for those affected by the Bondi tragedy.

A 16-year-old boy wielding a knife allegedly stabbed Bishop Mar Marie Emmanuel at the Christ of Good Shepherd Church in Wakely on Monday night.

Three other people were injured in the incident, including Father Isaac Royel, after members of the congregation stormed the altar to stop the attack.

The stabbing sparked a riot outside the church, and more than a dozen police officers were injured.

A 16-year-old boy allegedly stabbed Bishop Mar Marie Emmanuel at the Christ of Good Shepherd Church in Wakely on Monday night.

Both Bishop Emmanuel and Father Royel remain in hospital.

The teenager is in custody.

“We believe there are elements that are satisfied in terms of religious-motivated extremism,” said NSW Police Commission Karen Webb.

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Live-streamed attack

At the time of the attack, the Assyrian Orthodox Christian service was being live streamed.

The horrifying video shows a person in a black hoodie walking quickly down the aisle toward the bishop. The bishop was giving a sermon at the time.

The person is then seen lunging at Bishop Emmanuel, before stabbing him repeatedly. A crowd then swarms in to stop the attack.

The teen, who is understood to have recently converted to Islam, reportedly yelled “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) after the stabbing.

“We will allege that there is a degree of premeditation,” said Commissioner Webb.

“As I understand it, [the victims] are lucky to be alive.”

Bishop Mar Marie Emmanuel and Father Isaac Royal, Photos sourced from Facebook_Christ The Good Shepherd Church

Bishop Mar Marie Emmanuel and Father Isaac Royal are currently in hospital being treated for stab wounds, Photos sourced from Facebook/Christ The Good Shepherd Church

Riot

The Commissioner told the media that after the stabbing an angry crowd of up to 500 people “converged on that area and began to turn on police,” she said.

“People used what was available to them in the area, including bricks, concrete palings, to assault police, and throw missiles at police and police equipment, and police vehicles.”

During the riot, the teenager was kept inside the church for his safety.

After the stabbing, an angry crowd of up to 500 people “converged on that area and began to turn on police,” Commissioner Webb said.

It is understood that in addition to injuries to police officers, some of whom were taken to hospital, 20 police vehicles were damaged in the riot.

“That is unacceptable and those that were involved in that riot can expect a knock at the door,” the Commissioner said.

“We’ll find you and we’ll come and arrest you. That is totally unacceptable.”

“No place for violence”

The attack came on the heels of Saturday’s devastating Bondi Junction stabbing rampage. In the attack, 40-year-old Joel Cauchi killed six people, before being shot dead by a police officer.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said it was a time “to unite, not divide”.

“There is no place for violence in our community,” he said. “There’s no place for violent extremism. We’re a peace-loving nation.

“I understand that people are feeling uneasy, and that’s understandable given the atrocity that occurred on Saturday and then this incident last night.”

Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Kanishka Raffel, urged all Sydneysiders to remain calm.

“There is no place for violence in our community. There’s no place for violent extremism. We’re a peace-loving nation,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.

“The pictures that we’ve seen of the attack in the church overnight were very distressing and upsetting to all people, really,” the archbishop told Hope 103.2.

“We just don’t expect to see that kind of thing happening.

“But I think we do just need to remain calm.

“Let the police do their work and find out what exactly was taking place.

“And of course, we’re praying for the recovery of the bishop and others who were injured.”

Christ The Good Shepherd Church, Photo sourced from Facebook_Christ The Good Shepherd Church

Christ The Good Shepherd Church where Monday’s event took place, Photo sourced from Facebook/Christ The Good Shepherd Church

Special service

Archbishop Raffel told Hope 103.2 that the Bondi Junction and church attacks are “distressing” for everyone.

Saint Andrews Cathedral is hosting a “service of solemn prayer” at 6pm tonight for those affected by the Bondi tragedy.

“I think it’s been a very distressing time, going to a place of worship, going to the shopping center, spending time out with your family… these are ordinary things that Australians do all of the time and violence interrupting these kinds of activities is totally unacceptable,” he said.

Saint Andrews Cathedral is hosting a “service of solemn prayer” at 6pm tonight for those affected by the Bondi tragedy.

“And really, we’ve all been affected by it,” Archbishop Raffel said.

“You might have Christian faith, you might not have faith, you may just want to gather with others to hear words of comfort and hope from the Lord Jesus.

“We are very glad to welcome anyone who wants to be together with others to strengthen our comfort and hope.”

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Featured image: Photo sourced on Facebook/Christ The Good Shepherd Church