Sydney: The bishop who was attacked with a knife in the church says he forgives the attacker

"I love you, I will always pray for you," he says in the audio message sent from the hospital

mari emmanuel arthrou ATTACK, Easter, Sydney

The Sydney bishop who was attacked with a knife inside his church by a young man on Monday said he is recovering and has forgiven the assailant in a video he released today.

"I'm fine, I'm recovering very quickly (...) there's no need to worry," Bishop Mar Marie Emmanuel said in a video posted on YouTube, his first comments since Monday's attack.

The bishop was stabbed in the head and chest on Monday night during a service at Christ The Good Shepherd Assyrian Church in Sydney's western suburbs. The attacker, a 16-year-old teenager, injured other worshipers who were there before he was arrested. He is now under guard in the same hospital as the bishop.

"I forgive the one who did this act and I say to him 'you are my son,'" added Mar Marie Emmanuel. “I love you and will always pray for you. And whoever sent you to do this, I also forgive him,” he added.

In the Wakely district, where the church is located, many members of the Christian Assyrian community live who fled to escape persecution in Iraq and Syria.

The 53-year-old Bishop Emmanuel, who is particularly popular among young people on TikTok, has been the target of much criticism and hate online as his sermons rail against homosexuality, covid vaccination, Islam, the election of US President Joe Biden.

After Monday's attack, hundreds of worshipers and members of the Assyrian community rushed to the church. Some threw stones and other objects at the police, demanding that the assailant be handed over to them. About thirty people were injured in these riots, including police officers.

New South Wales Police Inspector Karen Webb said today that a 19-year-old man who is not a member of the church has been charged in connection with the riots.

“People went just to take part in the riots. It's disgusting," Webb commented.

Meanwhile in his message the bishop asked his flock to keep calm and respect the law.

In addition, Jamal Rifi, a doctor in Sindee who is in contact with the family of the attacker, who is of Lebanese origin, said that they are "shocked" and "cannot believe the horrible act of their son". The teenager's mother told Riffy that her son was dealing with mental health issues.