Faith communities: our job is to stand together

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel

In the wake of the live-streamed alleged stabbing of Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel (pictured) at the Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley near Liverpool, Sydney, Murray Norman, CEO of Faith NSW, called for faith communities to work together.

“This appears to be a horrific attack on a faith leader here in our multicultural home of NSW,” Norman said in a Faith NSW statement sent to The Other Cheek.

“An attack on one faith is an attack on all of us and our faith communities stand unified against hate, violence and any form of intimidation or incitement.

“During a week of mourning where we have seen the worst of humanity on display, this is yet another sobering reminder that we all need to do more to stamp out this vile conduct from our state.”

In an interview with ABC Radio National’s Patricia Karvelas this morning, Norman emphasised unity. “The faith communities in New South Wales are keen to stand arm in arm with the premier and the police commissioner. They’re there to help us. We stand with them. It’s shocking the events we see in front of us, but we are very keen to support the police, support the premier and let them do their job and do it well.”

Norman heads Faith NSW, a multifaith umbrella group that grew out of work to support Special Religious Education in public schools. The alleged stabbing has been declared a terror incident due to a possible religious motivation of the 15-year-old assailant, who also attacked Isaac Royal, a parish priest at the church. Evidence for the terror alert is contained in some media reports. Newscorp papers allege videos show the assailant speaking in Arabic: “The rough translation of what the alleged attacker said, while lying on the ground inside the Church in police custody, is: ‘If he didn’t swear at my Prophet I wouldn’t be here. If he didn’t involve himself in my religion, I wouldn’t be here.’”

“I think one of the things we need to be really careful of, just like the police commissioner and the premier and said, we need to be careful jumping to conclusions,” Norman told Karvelas on Radio National. “What we do with the information we’ve got, we need to let the police do their investigation….

“We’ve seen these horrible things unfold over the last week, what happened last night, and we are keen to support. We’re keen to deescalate things because it’s really important that the community supports the police and the premier at this time. We need to be praying for Bishop Emanuel, the congregation there, and we need to reduce the temperature on things.”

The Bishop prayed for his assailant after he was attacked and has urged Christians to do the same. Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and Isaac Royal’s injuries are understood to not be life-threatening.

Asked whether social cohesion was fraying, Norman responded, “I definitely see incidents like this at times that we need to come together and stand strong, and that’s what we’re going to do in New South Wales. Multicultural New South Wales is strong. The faith communities are strong, and at times like this, we need to stand together.”

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel has a large online presence and is known for strong conservative views, including opposition to Covid lockdowns. He is no longer in the Assyrian Church of the East, a traditional church in the Middle East. Part of the Assyrian Church of the East joined the Catholics and is known as the Chaldean Catholic Church. Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, it seems is part of a long history of division in the Assyrian churches.

Norman said Sydney’s religious leaders are working to calm things down. “Religious leaders right across Sydney, “I’ve spoken to many of them, [they] are working very hard with their congregants with their communities. Our job is to help with social cohesion to actually bring the temperature down. We’re working with the government, working with the police. That is our job as spiritual leaders.”

Christ the Good Shepherd Church made this plea in a statement following a crowd of supporters attacking police: “Beloved, let not today’s horrific attempt upon Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel’s life diminish the Holy, perfect and Sanctified name of the risen Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ our Master, Who has called us to a life of unity, peace and solidarity with one another.”

Image: Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel Picture Credit: MENA Christians on X


  1. “An attack on one faith is an attack on all of us”
    By that same logic it was an attack BY all faith groups.

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