‘Vacate’: Bishop urges end to hospital vigil

Vision has emerged of a bishop allegedly being stabbed during a service. Picture: Twitter
Vision has emerged of a bishop allegedly being stabbed during a service. Picture: Twitter

WARNING: Graphic content

The bishop stabbed in a shocking knife attack while giving a sermon at the Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley has urged supporters to “vacate” a hospital vigil for him.

The streets around the southwestern Sydney church exploded into chaos on Monday night after a 16-year-old boy with a knife allegedly attacked Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel during his livestreamed sermon, with video of the gruesome violence spreading quickly across social media.

The 53-year-old bishop suffered lacerations to his head and paramedics took him to hospital, with his followers quickly setting up a vigil for him there.

But on Tuesday afternoon, an Instagram post from the church encouraged supporters to “vacate” the hospital “for the love and safety of our beloved bishop”.

“Mar Mari Emmanuel humbly asks everyone to respect his privacy and the safety of others at this time,” the statement read.

“Please allow the authorities to complete their duties.

“We urge anyone present at the Liverpool Hospital to vacate the premises for the love and safety of our beloved bishop.”

Minns, faith leaders urge ‘calm’ and ‘peace’

NSW Premier Chris Minns and the state’s faith leaders had issued a joint statement calling for calm and peace in the aftermath of the alleged terror attack.

“Places of worship are places of peace and prayer,” the joint statement read.

“The people who gather there should never feel threatened or unsafe, no matter what religion they follow.

“As faith leaders representing the diverse religious communities of NSW, we stand united against all forms of hate and violence.

“Our prayers are with the victims and we call on our communities to extend our message of care and compassion to all.

“We have trust in our police and first responders and full confidence in their work.

“Police should never be attacked for keeping our communities safe.

“The scenes we witnessed after the attack are unacceptable to anyone and especially to people of faith.

“For people of faith, religion is never a justification for violence.

“It has been a very difficult week but we are a strong community in NSW.

“We call on everyone to act with kindness and respect for each other.

“Now is the time to show that we are a caring and united community.”

The statement has been agreed to by all members of the NSW Faith Affairs Council:

  • Right Reverend Dr Michael Stead, Anglican Church, Diocese of Sydney

  • Mr Gawaine Powell Davies, Chair, Buddhist Council of NSW

  • Imam Shadi Alsuleiman, President, Australian National Imams Council

  • Dr Ali Al Samail, Resident Scholar (Sheikh), Australian Ahl Al Bait Islamic Centre

  • Mr Surinder Kumar Jain, Vice President, Hindu Council of Australia

  • Ms Monica Doumit, Director of Public Affairs and Engagement, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney

  • David Ossip, President, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies

  • Rev. Dr Steve Bartlett, Director of Ministries, Baptist Churches of NSW & ACT

  • Rev. Dr Manas Ghosh, Minister in the Uniting Church Uniting Church in Australia Synod of NSW & ACT

  • Rev. Dr Kamal Weerakoon, Minister, Presbyterian Church of Australia

  • Mr Darshan Singh Gill, Patron, Australian Sikh Association (ASA) (Gurdwara Sahib Glenwood)

  • Very Rev. Fr Christophoros Krikelis, Chancellor, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia

  • Rev. Ralph Estherby, National Director/CEO for Chaplaincy Australia, Australian Christian Churches

  • Mr Darren Bark, Co-Chair, Better Balanced Futures (Faith NSW)

  • Mr Murray Norman, CEO, Better Balanced Futures (Faith NSW)

  • Reverend Heather Joyce Topp, Senior Chaplain and Interfaith Minister, Buddhist Council of NSW

  • Reverend William Crews AM, Superintendent Minister, Ashfield Parish Mission

  • Ms Katherine Xavier, Interfaith Commission Member, Catholic Diocese of Parramatta

  • Ms Monica Chahoud, Melkite Charitable Foundation President, Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Australia, New Zealand and all Oceania

The statement was also supported by:

  • Archbishop Mar Meelis Zaia, Assyrian Church of the East

  • Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona, Catholic Chaldeans in Australia

  • Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay, Maronite Bishop of Australia, New Zealand and Oceania

  • Dr Rateb Jneid, President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils

  • Mr Hafez Alameddine, President of the Lebanese Muslim Association

‘Disturbing’: Ambos trapped for hours in riot

As Wakeley exploded into riots and chaos on Monday night, paramedics confronted a hostile crowd and faced direct threats as they rushed in to help the injured, a senior leader in NSW’s emergency response apparatus has said.

NSW Health Minister Ryan Park is furious at the behaviour of the rioters, calling the crowd’s hostility towards the emergency workers “heinous and completely unacceptable”.

“The scenes from Wakeley last night were incredibly disturbing,” he said on Tuesday afternoon.

“This is yet another instance in which our brave paramedics have thrown themselves into chaos and danger to provide lifesaving care and treatment.

“The hostility unleashed upon them is particularly heinous and completely unacceptable.”

NCA NewsWire understands paramedics at the scene, which exploded into chaos after a 16-year-old boy with a knife allegedly attacked Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, came under direct threat.

At one point, some paramedics were unable to leave the church for three-and-a-half hours and paramedics have described the scenes as terrifying and extremely violent.

Mr Park met with health workers on Tuesday morning across Sydney.

“As Health Minister my focus right now is on the safety and security of our health workers and the people they are caring for,” he said.

Alleged teen attacker reportedly suspended from school

An 16-year-old knifeman who allegedly attacked two religious leaders in Sydney’s west was reportedly suspended from school for carrying a knife.

The teenager’s alleged attack on Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel at the Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley on Monday evening sparked a riot by a furious mob of about 2000 people.

NSW Police, alongside the AFP and ASIO, has declared it a terrorism act.

NSW Joint Counter-Terrorism Team set to investigate

The NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team will investigate the stabbing, police confirmed on Tuesday afternoon.

The JCTT is a specialist police unit responsible for responding to terror threats in the state.

It is made up of members from the NSW Police, the Australian Federal Police, ASIO and the NSW Crime Commission.

The investigation will be led by the NSW Police under Operation Kilchurn.

The mayhem began about 7.10pm on Monday night when the knifeman allegedly attacked the bishop, with video of the horrific blast of violence quickly spreading across social media.

Police officers attached to Fairfield City Police Area Command attended the chaotic scene and found the 53-year-old bishop with lacerations to his head. A 39-year-old man also sustained lacerations and a shoulder wound as he attempted to intervene in the violence, the police said.

The attacker was restrained by members of the public and then arrested by the police.

He remains in hospital, under police guard.

Alleged knifeman suspended for knife possession

Fresh reports suggest the alleged knifeman was previously suspended after he brought a knife to school.

NCA NewsWire understands the 16-year-old was suspended for knife possession in 2020.

Rumours about severed fingers understood to be false

At least one of the alleged offender’s fingers is understood to have been cut off in the attack on the Wakeley church.

Photos and videos circulating online had sparked rumours that four of the 16-year-olds fingers had been cut off by parishioners in the moments after they pulled him off the bishop.

In confronting footage, the alleged attacker appears to be held down by multiple people. One man, with blood on his jeans, straddles the alleged attacker’s head with his legs.

The video also showed the boy apparently smiling at the camera.

But NCA NewsWire understands this not to be the case.

High-level sources have confirmed the 16-year-old was responsible for the injury to just one of his fingers that occurred during the attack.

Earlier, NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb addressed the rampant speculation.

She said it was “too early to say” what really happened to his finger.

“There’s various stories about the fingers,” Ms Webb said when she addressed the media on Tuesday morning.

Vision has emerged of the bishop appearing to be stabbed during a service. Picture: Twitter
Vision has emerged of the bishop appearing to be stabbed during a service. Picture: Twitter

“That’s not clear yet whether it’s self-inflicted or through the melee that occurred or some other way, and I understand that it’s possibly a flick knife, but that is to be confirmed as well.”

When asked by a reporter if she knew whether the crowd in their anger had cut off the teenager’s finger or whether his own knife had caused the rumoured injury, Ms Webb said the answer would be determined “through statements from witnesses and victims” but agreed that it was an important point.

In an update shared on Tuesday morning, police said the alleged offender was recovering in hospital after he underwent surgery for injuries sustained in the alleged attack.

The 16-year-old was removed from the church and taken to hospital where he remains under police guard.

‘Most likely attack’: ASIO call before stabbing

The director general of Australia’s intelligence agency said it was sadly predicted that any terrorist attack was “most likely” to be an individual who acted with little or no warning.

Speaking after the alleged stabbing of a high-profile bishop and priest at a southwest Sydney church on Monday night was declared a “terrorist act”, ASIO director-general Mike Burgess said when his agency lowered the terrorism threat level to “possible” in November 2022, it came with a warning.

“I said at the time possible does not mean negligible, and the most likely attack is an individual that goes to violence with little or no warning with a knife, car or gun,” Mr Burgess said.

“And sadly we’ve seen that in this case.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Monday night’s incident was ‘disturbing’. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

He confirmed the terrorist incident appeared to be “religiously motivated”.

He said the terrorism threat level would remain at “possible”, but was constantly under review.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw declined to comment on what religion the 16-year-old alleged perpetrator prescribed to.

“At this stage, there’s no indication of anyone else involved, but that remains an open investigation,” he said.

Neither senior official would be drawn on whether the boy had been radicalised online or if there had been red flags, saying the joint counter-terrorism team were investigating all lines of questioning.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described the incident as “disturbing”, and said there was “no place for violence in our community (or) violent extremism”.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw, Mr Albanese and ASIO director-general of security Mike Burgess. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

Clean up at church begins

The Christ The Good Shepherd Church remained cordoned off on Tuesday morning as forensic police gathered evidence within the gated compound.

Residents were seen sweeping shattered glass from properties adjacent to the church, with glass, rocks, and other debris scattered across the street.

Richard Robinson told NCA NewsWire in the 45 years he’d lived with wife Margaret in the quiet suburban street, he’d never seen any similar violence.

“It is something you don’t see except in America or in the movies… the amount of police that were here, it was amazing,” Mr Robinson said on Tuesday.

The long-time resident said he had been at his home one street over on Monday night about 7.15pm when he first heard a commotion outside the parish.

Mr Robinson said the parishioners told him the bishop had been stabbed and they were unsure he was going to be OK, and that they were “getting anxious”.

Local Richard Robinson said he’d never seen anything like what happened on Monday night. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

“When I came back a bit later, that’s when they were throwing things and there was quite a bit of pepper spray from the police,” Mr Robinson said.

“They were yelling that they wanted him (the juvenile alleged attacker) out. They probably wanted to rip him apart no doubt, so that was concerning.

“But the scary part for me was when they – there must have been hundreds of them – ran down the road after the police had moved them on.”

Mr Robinson said he looked out the window to see people jumping on a police car parked outside the home and smashing its windows.

He described chaotic scenes on Monday night, with police cordoning off the area as members of the riot squad, dog squad, and Polair being deployed.
A tree outside the property was also knocked down, with police alleging members of the group had thrown projectiles at the responding officers.

Mr Robinson described Bishop Emmanuel as seeming like a “lovely man” and humble, stating it was “just a shame that sort of thing happened to


Forensics collect evidence at the scene. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

Despite the chaotic scenes, Mr Robinson he was undeterred and wished to remain at his southwest Sydney home of almost 50 years.

“I’ve been living here for that long and I’m established in the area. We’re happily living here. We have a walking group… It is still home,” he said.

Video of attacker being probed

Officials confirmed they were investigating a video shared via private WhatsApp groups that purports to show the alleged attacker being held on the ground inside the church, surrounded by people.

It’s been reported he was speaking in Arabic, which has been roughly translated:

“If he (the bishop) didn’t get himself involved in my religion, if he hadn’t spoken about my prophet, I wouldn’t have come here,” it’s been reported he said.

“If he just spoke about his own religion, I wouldn’t have come.”
The bishop has previously criticised Islam and the Prophet Mohammed in public sermons.

Asked about the video on Tuesday morning, Mr Burgess said investigators were aware of the comments and it was an “open line of inquiry”.

Bishop’s shock act after alleged stabbing

Witnesses have said the bishop who was allegedly stabbed during a church service in Sydney’s southwest was praying for the alleged offender in the moments after.

Video, posted on social media, showed Bishop Emmanuel allegedly being attacked at the Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley while delivering his sermon about 7.10pm on Monday.

After the attack, in the suburb close to Cabramatta, a furious mob of about 2000 people swarmed near the church with riots breaking out and police struggling to maintain order.

Police said the boy had serious hand injuries amid rumours his finger was cut off during the melee. Officers had to barricade themselves inside the church with the boy for several hours as the violence continued outside.

A number of police officers were injured after being hurt during the unrest.

Police have said none of the injuries sustained by any of the victims were life-threatening.

Crowds also formed at Liverpool Hospital after at least some of those injured at the church were taken there for treatment. The hospital’s emergency department was closed to people who did not require treatment for a period of time as a “precautionary measure”.

“Terrorism act” declared by police

The NSW Police Commissioner declared the incident a “terrorism act” at 1.35am on Tuesday.

“This is a major and serious criminal investigation. It is crucial that police are able to devote their resources and intelligence as well as officers to the investigation of this crime,” NSW Premier Chris Minns said during a press conference.

The alleged offender is not on any terrorism watch list and this is the first time he has come to the attention of police.

“We will allege he attended that church with the knife, the bishops and priests and others were also injured,” Ms Webb said.

“We believe there are elements that are satisfied in terms of religious motivated extremism and of course intimidation of the public.”

Bishop’s amazing act after stabbing

A local councillor has confirmed reports that Bishop Emmanuel was praying for the teenage boy just moments after he allegedly stabbed him in the middle of a church service.

“That’s exactly true, that’s the reports that I’m hearing,” Cumberland City councillor Steve Christou said on Sunrise. 

“It just shows the remarkable courage of a man and the forgiveness he has within him to pray for his alleged attacker.”

Vision has emerged of a bishop appearing to be stabbed during a service. Picture: Twitter
Vision has emerged of a bishop appearing to be stabbed during a service. Picture: Twitter

“Time to unite”: Albanese

Mr Albanese, who described Monday night’s events as “very distressing”, pleaded for the community to “remain calm” and let police do their job.

“We understand the distress and concerns that are there in the community, particularly after the tragic event at Bondi Junction on Saturday,” he said.

“But it’s not acceptable to impede and injure police during their duty, or to damage police vehicles in a way that we saw last night.

“People should not take the law into their own hands, but we should allow our police, and our security agencies, to do their job.”

He said there was no place for violence in the community.

“There is no place for violent extremism in our community. We are a peace-loving nation. This is a time to unite,” he said.

Priest identified as second stabbing victim

Father Isaac Royel has been identified as the second stabbing victim.

In a post shared to the church’s Instagram page on Monday night, a spokesperson confirmed Father Royel was admitted to hospital and was in a stable condition.

The 39-year-old was injured after attempting to intervene to stop the alleged stabber, suffering lacerations and a shoulder wound, police will allege.

Father Isaac was also stabbed. Picture Facebook.jpg
Father Isaac Royel was allegedly stabbed at the scene. Picture: Facebook

“We ask for your prayers at this time,” a post shared to the Church’s Instagram just before midnight on Monday.

“It is the bishop 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.”

MP cautions against jumping to conclusions

Dai Le, whose electorate of Fowler takes in Wakeley, paid tribute to the bishop, describing him as a “wonderful human being”.

“He’s authentic, he’s genuine,” she told Sunrise from outside the crime scene on Tuesday morning.

“He’s a very much loved figure within the community.”

She praised police for responding to the alleged stabbing so quickly, but described the scenes outside the church on Tuesday night as “chaotic”.

Dai Le speaks at church...JPG
Dai Le speaks said the bishop was a ‘wonderful human being’. Picture: Sunrise

“It was too chaotic, and I think it was too emotional last night for the people who heard about what happened to the Bishop,” she said.

She cautioned against jumping to conclusions about why the alleged stabbing had occurred.

“I would say to people, remain really calm and not be emotional about all of this. I know that the bishop would do the same thing,” she said.

“I live in a very multi-faith and multicultural community. I would caution people against making any kind of assertion about this whole thing. Let’s leave it for the police to do that job.”

Premier calls meeting of faith leaders

Mr Minns met with faith leaders from six churches across Western Sydney just three hours after the attack unfolded on Monday night.

“All of the community leaders endorsed and supported a unanimous condemnation of violence in any form, called for the community to follow first responder and police instructions and called for calm in the community,” he said in a statement.

“We’re calling on everyone to act with kindness and respect for each other. Now is the time to show that we are strong and united as a NSW community.”

Fairfield City Mayor Frank Carbone condemned actions against responding officers. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw

Local mayor: People “rushed to protect” family

Fairfield City Mayor Frank Carbone said he condemned the actions of community members who rioted against police but explained hundreds of people “rushed towards the church to protects their loved ones”.

Two police officers were injured and a number of police vehicles sustained damage during the unrest that followed the alleged stabbing.

A constable was hit with a metal object and sustained a twisted knee and a chipped tooth. Another constable sustained a broken jaw after he was hit with a brick and a fence paling.

“So many people rushed there to protect their family and their friends … and I think that created a bit of a tinderbox and a lot of emotions,” Mr Carbone told 2GB radio on Tuesday.

“We definitely condemn the actions against the police and we hope that all the police personnel that got injured are doing much better this morning.”

“Forgiven his attacker”: Abdallah family

Leila Abdallah – who attends the Christ The Good Shepherd Church with her family – said she was confident Bishop Emmanuel had “forgiven his attacker”.

“Echoing the message of forgiveness that defines our beliefs,” she wrote in a post to Instagram about 10pm, alongside a carousel of photos featuring her children with the bishop.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel. Picture Instagram.JPG
Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel pictured with the youngest Abdallah child. Picture: Instagram
Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel. Picture Instagram.JPG
The bishop standing in front of a photo of the late Abdallah children. Picture: Instagram

“Our heart goes out to him,” she said.

“Let us come together in prayer for Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel.”

Mrs Abdallah lost three of her children and a niece when a drunk driver struck them while walking to get ice cream in Sydney’s west in 2020.

She shocked the nation when she told reporters she forgave the driver less than 24 hours after the incident.

Police taped off the entrance to the emergency department at Liverpool Hospital. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jonathan Ng.

Alleged attack

Shocking footage of the alleged attack showed the bishop speaking when a younger person dressed in black calmly walked up to him.

The bishop looked at the alleged attacker, who then made a stabbing motion to the face and neck area.

The bishop then fell to the ground.

Screams were heard from the crowd, as several people rushed forward to try to help.

The footage was taken from a livestream from the church’s YouTube page.

Bishop Emmanuel was helped by churchgoers after the alleged attack. Picture: Twitter
Bishop Emmanuel was helped by churchgoers after the alleged attack. Picture: Twitter

Chaos erupts

During the Covid pandemic, Bishop Emmanuel gained notoriety for comments where he criticised both lockdowns and vaccines and said coronavirus was “just another type of flu”.

Violence has erupted in Sydney’s southwest with an angry mob of about 2000 people surrounding a church and attacking police. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Monique Harmer
Police raced to the scene after the alleged stabbing. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Monique Harmer

Mr Carbone said the alleged attack was “horrific” and he understood people were “distraught”, but he also called for calm.

“I understand that many people are upset, and justifiably so,” he told Sky News.

“Obviously it’s terrible.

“I feel for everybody that witnessed that (stabbing) but I do call for calm.

“The police will do their job and please let’s not make the police’s job any harder.”

Angry crowds gathered in southwestern Sydney following the alleged stabbing attack.
Angry crowds gathered in southwestern Sydney following the alleged stabbing attack.
Officers were seen outside Liverpool Hospital. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jonathan Ng,

Mr Minns described the scene as “disturbing”.

“I have received a briefing from the Commissioner of Police and NSW Health on the situation,” he said in a statement.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and first responders who are working to keep us safe.

“It’s important that the community remain calm and continue to listen and act to the directions of police and emergency services.

“We are a strong community in NSW and it’s important that we all stick together, particularly in the face of adversity.”

There were some confronting scenes following the alleged attack. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Monique Harmer
Police say they are working to restore order. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Monique Harmer
Liverpool Hospital was put into lockdown on Monday night. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jonathan Ng,

A NSW Ambulance spokesman told NCA NewsWire a man aged in his fifties was taken to Liverpool Hospital with multiple stab wounds.

Three other people were also injured — a man aged in his thirties suffered multiple lacerations, a man in his twenties received a cut to his hand, and a man in his sixties wounded his arm.

“Officers attached to Fairfield City Police Area Command, supported by multiple police resources from a number of commands and specialist units, attended,” police said in a statement.

“A male was arrested and remains in police custody.

“The injured individuals suffered non-life threatening injuries and were treated by NSW Ambulance paramedics before being conveyed to hospital.”

The attack on the bishop comes just three days after six people were killed during a stabbing massacre at Sydney’s Bondi Junction Westfield shopping centre.

There is nothing to suggest the two events are linked.