Mar Emmanuel forgives attacker in audio message: “I love you my son”

Assyrian bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel has addressed his attacker three days after the attempt on his life, saying as a spiritual father, “You’re my son, I love you and I will always pray for you.” 

He also urged people to “never go out and fight on the street” or respond to violence with violence.

His message of forgiveness was “the greatest act of faith” and is “as powerful as an exorcism,” i4Give founders Danny and Leila Abdallah told The Catholic Weekly.

Mar Emmanuel’s voice message was posted online by Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley where he was stabbed by a 16-year-old teenager while leading a Scripture preaching service on 15 April.  

Beginning with the sign of the cross, Mar Emmanuel said he was recovering quickly from his injuries and asked his many followers to themselves “act Christ-like” and to obey the state authorities. 

“We thank the Lord Jesus for what took place in the last couple of days,” the bishop is heard to say, in a four-minute message. 

“I’m doing fine, recovering quickly, I thank the Lord Jesus. There is no need to be worried or concerned,” he said. 

After offering advice “to our beloved faithful” to follow the example of Christ in carrying their cross each day, he referred to the violence outside the church after the incident. 

Some in the crowd were reportedly seeking vengeance at the time, chanting “an eye for an eye” and preventing police from entering the church to apprehend the attacker. 

 “The Lord Jesus never taught us to fight, the Lord Jesus never taught us to retaliate, the Lord Jesus never said to us ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’, the Lord Jesus never return evil for evil but return evil with good,” Mar Emmanuel said. 

“So my beloved, I want you to always be calm, we need you to be law-abiding citizens as well.  

“We need you to cooperate with the police directives, whether it be a state or federal level.” 

The bishop’s voice recording was embedded in a 14-minute video message posted on the church’s YouTube, Instagram and Facebook accounts. 

It features three other priests delivering reassurance about the religious leader’s wellbeing and urging people to adhere to laws and assist authorities with their investigations, in English, Arabic and Assyrian. 

The bishop urged listeners to pray for Australia and Sydney and “never forget we are grateful to be Aussies.” 

“But above all we are Christians and we need to act like it, love never fails,” he said, quoting 1 Corinthians 13. 

“Whatever has happened to me personally, I thank the Lord Jesus. It’s a huge blessing for me. 

“I forgive whoever has done this act and I say to him, ‘You’re my son I love you and I will always pray for you. And whoever sent you to do this I forgive you as well in Jesus’ mighty name.’  

“I have nothing in my heart but love for everyone, whether that person is a Christian or not that’s totally beside the point. 

“I have forgiven then, I’m praying for them, and for his young man I say to you, ‘You are my son and you will always be in my prayers.’ 

“May the Lord Jesus forgive you, may the Lord Jesus bless you and show you the way, my dear son. 

“And once again to your beloved faithful, we need to reflect Christ in our lives. The Lord Jesus never said go out and fight on the street, never said to retaliate but to pray.” 

Danny and Leila Abdallah, founders of the i4Give Foundation, told The Catholic Weekly he “expected nothing less” from their friend. 

Mar Emmanuel offered them pastoral support after three of their children were killed by a drunk driver in 2020, and they have remained close since then. 

“He is a good man, a holy man,” Mr Abdallah said. 

“All he talks about is God and he also loves his mother Mary. 

“Forgiveness is the greatest act of faith and I’m sure the bishop would agree that it can only be done by God’s grace. 

“And it’s like an atomic bomb for Satan, it’s as powerful as an exorcism.” 

Mrs Abdallah said it was a lesson for all believers to not be ashamed to declare their faith. 

“Mar Mari is echoing the message of God’s forgiveness to the whole world, this is true Christianity,” she said. 

Police made their first arrest in relation to the crowd unrest on 17 April, charging a 19-year-old man with riot, affray and damage to property. 

The man was arrested at a home in Doonside. He was refused bail and will appear in Blacktown Local Court on 18 April. 

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