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Christ the Good Shepherd Church and Bishop Emmanuel

Shocking to learn of another stabbing attack in Sydney, this time in a church by a 15 year old. Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was stabbed, as well as three others, during a worship service in an Assyrian Orthodox Church in Wakely in Sydney’s south west.

The attack took place as Bishop Emmanuel was delivering a sermon, which was being live-streamed. Police have labelled the attack a terrorist act.

The Bishop says he’s “doing fine” and has forgiven his attacker as he urged his followers to act in peace.

Churches in Australia have called for prayers of peace.

Places of worship – including synagogues, churches, mosques, temples, and shrines of all faiths and religious heritage sites – are places of prayer. The people who gather there should never feel threatened or unsafe, no matter what religion they follow.

People everywhere must be allowed to observe and practice their faith in peace, as affirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Religion cannot be used to justify human rights violations and abuses or to fuel violence.

We must stand together as faith communities to support one another in solidarity, to cooperate in protecting and preventing attacks against places of worship, and to counter intolerance and discrimination.

A statement from Christ the Good Shepherd Church said,

“Dear Brothers & Sisters, Our beloved Bishop, His Grace Mar Mari Emmanuel, and Father Isaac have been admitted to hospital. They are in a stable condition. We ask for your prayers at this time. It is the Bishop’s and Father’s wishes that you also pray for the perpetrator. We also kindly ask anyone at the Church premises to leave in peace, as our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, teaches us. Thank you”.

The Moderator of NSW/ACT UCA Synod issued a statement:

“In the face of this horrific incident, we all must stand together to recommit to respecting and caring for one another, to protecting one another, and to preventing such violence. Any form of violence we reject and denounce. Let us together as a community embrace human rights and values. I call on all of us to continue to pray for peace and hope for those who have been impacted.” (Rev Faaimata Havea Hiliau)

The Most Reverend Bishop Robert Rabbat*‘s Statement on Attack in Wakeley and a Plea for Peace. (* Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Australia, New Zealand and All Oceania)

Statement from NSW Ecumenical council here

Statement from Syriac Orthodox Church

Statement from Uniting Church Vic/Tas Synod Moderator, Rev David Fotheringham

Other faith traditions have condemned the act of violence.

Multicultural NSW statement here.

The Australian Jewish Association has said:

“Our thoughts are with our friends in the beautiful Assyrian community and we wish them a speedy recovery”.

A statement from the Australian National Islamic Council and the Australian National Imams Council has condemned the attack – read more here.

(Other links to statements will be added if they become available)

In an update, the Regulator has ordered Meta-owned platforms and X to remove all content livestreamed from Sydney’s Wakeley Church (and the Bondi Junction attack).

Further reading
More Protections Needed for People of Faith article (2020) (with downloadable link on ‘Freedom of religions in Australia: a Focus on Serious Harms’. July 2020)