Bishop stabbed at Sydney church says he has forgiven his attacker

A prominent Orthodox Christian leader who was stabbed in Sydney on Monday during a service says he has forgiven his attacker.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, in his first comments since the attack, asked his supporters to be “Christlike” and refrain from any violence.

The 53-year-old bishop has been hospitalised since he was attacked by a 16-year-old boy during a live-streamed service at the Assyrian Christ the Good Shepherd church in Wakeley, west Sydney.

A large riot broke out the day after the attack on the bishop. In an audio message released by the church on Thursday, the Christian leader urged his followers to obey the law.

“There is no need to be worried or concerned. And a piece of advice to all our beloved faithful – I need you to act Christlike.

“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’.”

He continued: “I forgive whoever has done this act. I say to him, you’re 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 has been arrested by the police but is yet to be charged. Currently, he remains under police guard in hospital, according to 1News.

In the audio message sent from his hospital bed, Bishop Emmamual added: “I have nothing in my heart but love for everyone. Whether that person is a Christian or not, it’s totally beside the point.”

The police have not yet ascribed any motive to the church attack. “We believe there are elements that are satisfied in terms of religious-motivated extremism,” New South Wales (NSW) police commissioner Karen Webb said earlier this week.

NSW authorities have decided to declare the attack an act of terrorism.

Bishop Emmanuel has a strong social media following and is outspoken on a range of issues. He proselytises to both Jews and Muslims and has been of liberal Christian denominations.

He also speaks out on global political issues and has lamented the plight of Palestinians in Gaza.

The bishop, described in local media as a figure sometimes seen as divisive on issues such as Covid-19 restrictions, was in the national news last year over comments about gender.

Forensic officers at the church in the Sydney suburb earlier this week (Getty)
Forensic officers at the church in the Sydney suburb earlier this week (Getty)

NSW’s premier, Chris Minns, on Wednesday defended his decision to declare the Wakeley church stabbing a terrorist attack and said that it was “necessary” and not a “performative gesture”.

In a separate stabbing incident in Sydney, six people were killed at a shopping mall, including a mother who died trying to save her nine-month-old baby. Five women and one man were killed by knife attacker Joel Cauchi in the Westfield shopping centre at Bondi Junction on Saturday.