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AUSTRALIA sydney stabbing CHURCH reuters.JPG
World News

Sydney bishop stabbing: Australian churches call for 'peace and understanding'

by Heather Preston

Churches in Australia have called for prayers of peace after a bishop and a priest were stabbed during a live-streamed church service in Sydney, characterised by police as terrorism.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel of the Assyrian Christ the Good Shepherd Church was delivering a sermon on Monday when a young man lunged at him with a concealed knife and delivered multiple blows to his head and body.

The teenager allegedly spoke in Arabic about the Prophet Muhammad following the attack.

Four people, including the bishop and a priest, suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Officials suspect the attack was religiously motivated.

In light of the attack, Rev John Gilmore, President of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) has encouraged Christians to respond with a "prayerful commitment to peace".

Speaking to Premier Christian News he said to "not race to condemnation and judgement .. we need to limit violence so that it doesnt navigate its way through the community as a whole.

"With all our differences, we are calling to live together in peace, with a calm spirit," he added.

Christ the Good Shepherd Church also reminded Christians of the importance of "unity, peace and solidarity." In a statement, it encouraging people to "honour the image of God, not through vengeance and justice, but in adopting the spirit of humility, love and peace".

A video of the incident rapidly circulated online, triggering clashes outside the church between police and an angry crowd of the bishop's followers who demanded the attacker be handed over to them.

Police arrested a male teenager at the scene and were forced to hold him at the church for his own safety.

The church called on the faithful and all followers of the bishop to "keep peace with one another and your neighbour", adding, "the Church denounces retaliation … and does not condone the behaviour of the non-compliant".

Police in Australia are preparing to charge people who attacked emergency services following the stabbing.

The NCCA has expressed its "deep sadness for those killed, injured, and traumatised" by the attack and urged people to respond with "respect and compassion".

"Let us respond to each other with respect and compassion. In our prayers, we are lifting up our communities that are seeking comfort and strength at this time," an NCCA statement reads. 

The Church network thanked local authorities for their service and encouraged everyone to "contribute to the ongoing national endeavour of nurturing peace and understanding".

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