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4/17/2024 Australia (International Christian Concern) — Australian authorities have determined a knife attack that took place during the evening of Monday, April 15, at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Sydney was an act of terrorism.  

Since the incident occurred during a live-streamed worship service, footage of the stabbing that injured Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, Father Isaac Royel, and two worshippers quickly went viral on social media. Police arrested a 16-year-old boy who later indicated he had a religious motive for the attack at the Assyrian Orthodox Church. 

“We’ll allege there’s a degree of premeditation on the basis that this person has traveled to that location, which is not near his residential address, he has traveled with a knife and subsequently the bishop and the priest have been stabbed,” New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb told the Associated Press. “They’re lucky to be alive.” 

In a statement, the church said that Emmanuel and Royel were stable and asked for people’s prayers. “It is the bishop’s and father’s wishes that you also pray for the perpetrator,” the statement added.  

The 53-year-old Iraq-born Bishop Emmanuel reportedly did just that immediately following the attack. As he bled, the bishop “put his hand on the man that stabbed him and said something like, ‘May the Lord Jesus Christ Save you,’” Charbel Saliba, Deputy Mayor of Fairfield City, a suburb of western Sydney, told CNN, citing a witness. 

During the attack, the boy used a switchblade, which is illegal in Australia. He reportedly suffered severe injuries to his hand. 

Bishop Emmanuel has a large following on social media and is outspoken on numerous issues, including being critical of Islam. The bishop also called for calm after an angry mob formed outside the church, armed with bricks and demanding revenge for the attack.  

In its investigation of the incident, an Australian counter-terrorism task force is determining whether others participated in the premeditated attack. At this time, they said, it appears as if the boy acted alone. 

Update: In his first comments since the attack, Bishop Emmanuel announced he has forgiven the boy who stabbed him.

“I forgive whoever has done this act,” Emmanuel said. “I will always pray for you, and whoever sent you to do this, I forgive them as well.”

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