Rev Tomy Kalathoor Mathew.image courtesy : International Business Times, India

In a suspected case of racist attack, a priest, Rev.Tomy Kalathoor Mathew, 48,from Thamarassery diocese in Kozhikode,Kerala was stabbed by a white man at the altar at Fawkner North in Melbourne, Australia.

Racism may be the reason the priest was stabbed in the neck moments before he was about to say mass at a Melbourne church,as per reports.

According to Australian media, who quoted church officials, the assailant yelled “You are Indian, a Hindu or Muslim, you cannot say mass, I will kill you”. The man reportedly approached Mathew, pulled out a knife and stabbed the priest in the neck in front of dozens of parishioners. Though some people tried to restrain the attacker, he broke free and fled the scene.

Fr Abraham Kavilpura-yidathil, Public Relations Officer of Thamarassery diocese, said Fr Tomy, a native of Karimbu near Anakkampoyil, Kozhikode, was serving as vicar of St Mathews Parish in Melbourne for the last four years.

The assailant, who approached the vicar just before the Holy Mass, said that he wanted to speak something in private with him. The vicar refused to oblige and told him that he could speak to him after the Mass.

The assailant then suddenly took out a knife hidden in this cloth and stabbed the priest on the neck. The impact of the attack was reduced due to the thick clothes worn by the priest to protect himself from the cold, apart from the cassock and additional dress for the Holy Mass. “The assailant escaped soon after the incident,” Fr Kavilpurayidathil said.

Rev.Tomy Kalathoor Mathew was rushed to Northern Hospital and treated for a wound to his neck. He was later discharged. Police on Sunday night arrested a 72-year-old Fawkner man, believed to be of Italian origin.

He has been charged with intentionally and recklessly causing injury and bailed to appear in the Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court on June 13

Rev.Tomy Kalathoor Mathew has been parish priest of the Melbourne church since late 2014 and Thamarassery diocese authorities said he would continue his duty as priest at that church. Mathew belongs to Kalathoor family of Karimbu in Anakkampoyil and became a priest under Thamarassery diocese in 1994. He had served as vicar at churches in Adakkakundu, Vettilappara, Kallurutti and Chundathumpoyil and worked as a teacher at Alphonsa School in Thamarassery.