A priest was stabbed in the neck in front of horrified worshipers during a Sunday morning church service in Melbourne.
Reverend Tomy Kalathoor Mathew, 48, was just about to start the 11am Italian mass at St Matthew’s church in Fawkner North when a man approached him.
The man allegedly yelled ‘you are Indian, a Hindu or Muslim, you cannot say mass… I will kill you,’ church officials told the Herald Sun.
They began to argue and the man produced a kitchen knife from his pants and stabbed Rev Mathew in the neck in front of dozens of parishioners.
Several people tried to restrain the attacker, but he broke free and fled the scene.
He was last seen on Minona Street after a few worshipers pursued him, but he got away and was still on the run.
Rev Mathew was not seriously injured in the brazen attack but was rushed to hospital after his flock gave him first aid inside the church.
The alleged attacker was seen hanging around the church last weekend but has not attended any services.
‘At this stage it is too early to tell (motive) and the investigation is ongoing,’ Detective Senior Constable Rhiannon Norton said at a press conference.
‘There was a large number of witnesses but we are appealing for anybody who might have seen this offender.
‘At this stage we believe the incident is isolated and there is nothing to suggest that he is a danger to anyone else.’
The offender is described as an Italian man in his 50s of thin build and was last seen wearing grey clothing.
Rev Mathew has been the parish priest of St Matthew’s since late 2014 and was well-liked by congregation members, who were shocked by the attack.