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WORLD

Horrified Worshipers Watch Online and in Person as an Orthodox Bishop is Stabbed

SYDNEY (AP) — Horrified worshipers watched online and in person as a bishop was stabbed at the altar during a church service in Sydney on Sunday evening, and three others were stabbed as people rushed to help. Police said there were no life-threatening wounds, and a man was arrested.

Hundreds of angry people hurried to the Orthodox Assyrian church and some clashed with riot police, with vehicles damaged. The church and local leaders pleaded for calm. “A large police response is underway and the public is urged to avoid the area,” police said.

The Christ the Good Shepherd in suburban Wakely streams sermons online, and a video on social media shows a man dressed in black approaching a cleric identified as the bishop and appearing to stab him repeatedly in the head and upper body.

Members of the congregation are seen screaming and rushing to stop it. The church identified the bishop as Mar Mari Emmanuel.

Authorities did not immediately report a motive for the attack. Australians were still in shock after a lone assailant stabbed six people to death in a Sydney shopping mall on Saturday and injured more than a dozen others. There was no immediate indication the two stabbings were linked.

Police requested the media not disclose where the man arrested had been taken, apparently to avoid further protests.

The church in a message on social media said the bishop and a senior priest, Isaac Royel, were in stable condition at a hospital and asked for people’s prayers. “It is the bishop’s and father’s wishes that you also pray for the perpetrator,” the church’s statement said. “We also kindly ask anyone at the church premises to leave in peace.”

Policeman stand guard outside a church where a bishop and churchgoers were reportedly stabbed in Sydney Australia, Monday, April 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

The NSW Ambulance service said it treated a man in his 50s for multiple cuts and three others were treated for one or more cuts.

The premier of New South Wales, Chris Minns, described the scenes as “disturbing” on social media and urged the community to remain calm and “stick together.” Religious leaders expressed shock and condolences.

Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone, leader of the neighboring municipal government, described the bishop as a community leader. “This is a very emotional situation. Obviously the community is very upset,” Carbone told Sky News.

Christ the Good Shepherd had been preparing for Palm Sunday later this month.

A policeman stands guard outside a church where a bishop and churchgoers were reportedly stabbed in Sydney Australia, Monday, April 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

The bishop, described in local media as a figure sometimes seen as divisive on issues such as COVID-19 restrictions, was featured in national news last year.

A video posted in May 2023 by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation about a campaign targeting the LGBTQ+ community showed the bishop in a sermon saying that “when a man calls himself a woman, he is neither a man nor a woman, you are not a human, then you are an it. Now, since you are an it, I will not address you as a human anymore because it is not my choosing, it your choosing.”

___
By MARK BAKER and ROD MCGUIRK Associated Press

McGuirk reported from Melbourne, Australia.

A Police car is seen vandalised outside a church where a bishop and churchgoers were reportedly stabbed in Sydney Australia, Monday, April 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Security officers stand guard outside a church where a bishop and churchgoers were reportedly stabbed in Sydney Australia, Monday, April 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

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