‘I forgive whoever has done this’: Australian bishop who survived stabbing speaks out

Stabbing in Australia A member of New South Wales Forensic Police is seen at Christ the Good Shepherd Church in the Sydney suburb of Wakeley, Australia, on April 16, 2024. Hundreds clashed with police in western Sydney on April 15 after Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was stabbed at the altar. New South Wales police have declared the attack a terror event. Police apprehended a 16-year-old in connection with the attack. | Credit: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

The Assyrian bishop who was attacked at an Australian church earlier this week shared that he is “doing fine” and told his attacker: “You’re my son, and you’ll always be in my prayers.”

In what Australian police are calling a terrorist attack, a young male entered Christ the Good Shepherd Church on Monday evening, April 15, and stabbed Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel. The bishop is a leader in the Assyrian Church, a branch of Eastern Christianity.

New South Wales police have the suspect in custody — a 16-year-old boy whose identity has not been released due to laws protecting minor offenders. 

The attack on Emmanuel was inadvertently livestreamed on his YouTube channel and came in the wake of a mass stabbing at an Australian shopping mall in the Bondi area on Saturday. 

Father Isaac Royel and other church members were also injured during the attack in their attempts to protect the bishop. 

In a video announcement from Christ the Good Shepherd Church, Father Daniel Kochou confirmed that Emmanuel endured “non-life-threatening injuries” and is “stable.” 

Emmanuel said in the parish announcement, posted to YouTube, that “we need to be always thankful to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ of Nazareth for whatever trials and tribulations we go through.”

“We are carrying the cross,” he said. “Let us not forget that at all.”

Speaking from his hospital bed, Emmanuel confirmed that he is “recovering very quickly” and said that “there is no need to be worried or concerned.”

“For this young man, I say to you, you’re my son, and you’ll always be in my prayers,” he said, speaking to his attacker. “May the Lord Jesus forgive you, may the Lord Jesus bless you and show you the way, my dear son.” 

“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,” he continued. “And whoever sent you to do this, I forgive them as well.”

Emmanuel emphasized that he has “nothing in my heart but love for everyone,” noting that Jesus taught that Christians should love their neighbors as themselves.  

Shortly after the stabbing, protesters began rioting outside of Christ the Good Shepherd Church, leading to some property damage and blockage of the emergency responders.

“The unfortunate events which took place outside the church caused unnecessary delays and threats to both victims, paramedics, and police,” Kochou said, noting that the church “does not condone” the activities that led to property damage, injuries, and delays in assistance due to the riot.

“I need you to act Christ-like,” Emmanuel said. “The Lord Jesus never taught us to fight. The Lord Jesus never taught us to retaliate. The Lord Jesus never said to us ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ The Lord Jesus said, ‘Never return evil with evil, but return evil with good.’”

“My beloveds, I want you to always be calm,” he continued. “We need to be always law-abiding citizens as well. We need to cooperate with the police… whether it be at a state level or federal level.”

“And once again, to our beloved faithfuls, we need to reflect Christ in our life,” Emmanuel said. “The Lord Jesus never said go out and fight on the street … but to pray.”

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“We pray for our beloved country Australia and our beautiful city of Sydney,” he concluded. “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.”

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