Australian police say stabbing of bishop and priest at church was a terrorist incident

Following the stabbing of a church bishop and priest during a livestreamed mass outside of Sydney, Australian police have declared the incident a ‘terrorist incident’. 

A 16-year-old male suspect, who has not been publicly identified, remains in custody Tuesday following the attack Monday night at the in Wakeley. 

“We believe there are elements that are satisfied in terms of religious motivated extremism,” New South Wales state Police Commissioner Karen Webb said Tuesday, according to Reuters. “After consideration of all the material, I declared that it was a terrorist incident.” 

The church’s livestream showed a man, later identified as Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, behind the altar in the church when a man walked toward him holding an unknown object. The man lunged at him and began to stab him in the chest.  


Churchgoers screamed and rushed to help the bishop, who could be seen falling to the ground as the suspect continued to attack. 

Video of the attack spread quickly on social media and an angry crowd converged on the church demanding vengeance, according to The Associated Press. They hurled bricks and bottles at police, who temporarily barricaded the suspect inside the church for his own safety. 

First responders attended to 30 people involved in the incident outside the church, which left 7 injured – including police, Reuters reports. Twenty police vehicles also were damaged, the news agency added, citing Webb. 

Webb said the teen suspect in the church attack had been known to police, but had not been on a terror watch list. He had been convicted in January of a range of offenses including possession of a switchblade knife, being armed with a weapon with an intention to commit an indictable offence, stalking, intimidation and damaging property, but a Sydney court had released him on a good behavior bond, the Associated Press reports, citing the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 


Emmanuel has a strong social media following and is outspoken on a range of issues, including the situation in Gaza and COVID-19 restrictions, according to the AP. 

The church said in a statement that “the attacker approached the lectern with a concealed knife then lunged forth to deliver multiple blows; to the head, then several to the body.” 

“The man also made another attempt on one of our Parish Priests, Fr. Isaac Royel, who is also receiving treatment for injuries sustained,” it added. “No one else in the Church suffered injury through the attacker [and he] was quickly apprehended by faithful sitting nearby, and has been detained by Police who now have him in custody.” 

It also said Emmanuel is “stable and improving.” 

The attack happened just days after a in Sydney left six dead. 

’ Stephen Sorace and