Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 19 (IANS): A Catholic priest from Kerala was attacked by an Italian on Sunday when the former was leading the Sunday mass in a Melbourne church.
"The priest, Tomy Mathew, was stabbed in the neck with a kitchen knife by the Italian during the mass at a Catholic church in Melbourne suburbs," said Thiruvallom Bhasi, editor of a Melbourne daily who is currently visiting here.
"While the ceremony was on, the accused came forward and shouted that since he (Mathew) is an Indian, he cannot conduct the mass," Bhasi added.
Bhasi said the accused was arrested by Melbourne Police.
The priest is now said to be out of danger.
The man allegedly yelled 'you are Indian, a Hindu or Muslim, you cannot say mass... I will kill you,' church officials told the Herald Sun.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, they began to argue and the man produced a kitchen knife from his trousers and stabbed Fr Mathew in the neck in front of dozens of parishioners.
Several people tried to restrain the attacker, but he broke free and fled the scene.
He was later seen on Minona Street, where he escaped some worshipers who pursued him, Daily Mail reported.
Later on Sunday evening, a 72-year-old man was arrested in connection with the stabbing, police announced. The man, who lives in Fawkner, has not yet been charged, police said.
The alleged attacker was seen hanging around the church last weekend but has not attended any services, the report said.
"At this stage we believe the incident is isolated and there is nothing to suggest that he is a danger to anyone else," Detective Senior Constable Rhiannon Norton said at a press conference.