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Mar Emmanuel will ‘show face of Jesus’ in wake of murder attempt, Fairfield priest says

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Mar Emmanuel at the altar of his church in Wakefield. Image: YouTube

Assyrian Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, who was brutally attacked as he led a church service in Wakeley in Sydney’s south west on Monday night, will most certainly forgive his assailant, says a neighbouring priest who knows him well.

Mar Emmanuel was allegedly stabbed several times on 15 April by a teenager in what authorities said was a religiously motivated terror attack, sparking a riot and heavy police response outside the church.

Mar Emmanuel and a senior priest Fr Isaac Royel suffered injuries in the attack and were taken to hospital for treatment, said a statement from Christ the Good Shepherd Church.

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Fairfield-based Syriac Catholic priest Fr Lenard Ina, a neighbouring clergyman who knows Mar Emmanuel well after arriving in Australia from Iraq, said he will forgive.

“I think Bishop Mari will forgive the person who did this but will also expect him to be judged under the law,” Fr Ina said the day following the attack.

“If he is filled with the spirit of Jesus he will forgive him and will emerge stronger from this.

“I know him personally and am convinced he will forgive his attacker, just as Pope John Paul II forgave the man who tried to kill him.”

Fr Ina was among refugees who fled his village near Mosul in Iraq when it was taken over by ISIS in 2014.

He and many of his parishioners were directly targeted by ISIS in 2014, in a brutal takeover of their villages in the country’s north.

He met Mar Mari Emmanuel shortly after arriving in Sydney and said the bishop, who was previously aligned with the Assyrian Church of the East, would not have been pleased with the violence that ensued following the attack.

“He would want people to stay calm and let the police and governments do their work,” Fr Ina said.

“I know his personality and I think he will use what has happened to him to show the face of Jesus.”

Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2024

Western Sydney Bishops call for calm

Other religious leaders also appealed for calm as NSW Premier Chris Minns confirmed the attack was being investigated as an act of terrorism.

State and federal authorities appealed for unity as Sydneysiders were left reeling from two stabbing attacks in three days.

Archbishop of the Assyrian Church of the East Zaia Mar Meelis, Archbishop of the Chaldean Church Amel Nona, Maronite Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay and Melkite Bishop Robert Rabbat published a joint statement with Islamic and other Christian leaders rejecting “violence in all its forms” and calling for calm.

“On behalf the Maronite Eparchy of Australia, we unequivocally denounce violence in all its forms and expresses deep concern over the incidents that took place last night in Wakeley,” said Bishop Tarabay in a separate statement.

“We call on everyone to remain calm, refrain from resorting to violence or retaliatory behaviours, and engaging in gossip and speculation.

“As a community we must work together to de-escalate tensions and I ask everyone to heed the calls of our governments and NSW Police, exercise prudence and follow police direction.

“We are reassured that Mar Mari Emmanuel and all those injured are in stable condition. We fervently pray for their complete healing and recovery, and I will be reaching out to check on their wellbeing.

“Please join me in continued prayer for everyone impacted and for our state.

“It is imperative that we continue to work together to foster peace and to actively strive to be peacemakers.

“May the love of our Lord Jesus Christ guide our actions as we navigate through these challenging times.”

The statement from the Good Shepherd Church said “we are taught to honour the image of God, not through vengeance and justice, but in adopting the spirit of humility, love and peace.

“Christ has in fact called his subjects to become the ‘light of the world’, meaning those who bear his mark must fervently uphold this role.”

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