Melbourne: In a suspected case of racism, a 48-year-old Keralite Catholic priest was stabbed by an assailant at a church in Melbourne's north when he was about to start his Sunday service.
Father Tomy Kalathoor Mathew in Fawkner was hospitalized after he suffered injuries to his neck. The man entered the church and confronted the priest in the foyer. The assailant asked the priest if he was a Hindu from India before wielding the knife against him.
"The priest, Tomy Mathew, was stabbed in the neck with a kitchen knife by an Italian during the mass at a Catholic church in Melbourne suburbs," said Thiruvallom Bhasi, editor of a Melbourne daily, who is currently visiting Kerala.
"The accused came forward and shouted that since he (Mathew) is an Indian, he cannot conduct the mass," Bhasi added.
The police have arrested the suspect. They are yet to confirm if it is a case of racist abuse.
The priest is now said to be out of danger.
Meanwhile, reports quoted witnesses as saying that the attacker was also seen last weekend at the church arguing with the 48-year-old priest.
(With inputs from IANS)