Fr. Tomy Mathew, a Catholic priest from Kerala, India, was the victim of a hate crime this weekend.
Minutes before his Sunday Mass at St. Matthew’s Parish in Fawkner, Australia, an elderly man approached Fr. Mathew.
According to News18, Thiruvallom Bhasi, the editor of a Melbourne daily visiting Thiruvananthapuram, witnessed the event.
“While the ceremony was on, the accused came forward and shouted that since he [Mathew] is an Indian, he couldn’t conduct the mass.”
Christian Today reported the man screamed at Fr. Mathew, “You are Muslim or Hindu…I will kill you” before stabbing the priest in the neck.
A woman, who asked not to be identified, witnessed the attack and said: “There was some shouting and lots of movement in the back of the church. I saw Father Tomy coming to approach me and he sort of waved me over.
“He asked if I could look at his neck. He said, ‘I’ve just been stabbed.’ As I removed his garment I could see quite a bit of blood.”
Fr. Abraham Kavilpurayidathil, a Public Relations Officer of Thamarassery diocese, explained Fr. Tomy, a native of Karimbu, has served as vicar of St. Matthew’s Parish for the last four years.
Fr. Savarimuthu Sankar, of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese, explained: “Hate crime became a concern and it is high time for the government to initiate dialogues with other countries to prevent such crimes.
“Every effort should be made by the government abroad to spread the message of appreciation for others. We condemn this incident and pray for his speedy recovery.”
Fr. Mathew was taken to the hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries to his neck and is expected to make a full recovery.
Thank you, Lord, for your veil of protection. Bless Fr. Mathew and his flock, that they harbor no fear and know only your peace and safety. Amen.