'The accused shouted that since the priest is an Indian he can't conduct the mass.'
Tomy Mathew: Photo via St Matthews Parish/Facebook

A Catholic priest from Kerala was attacked by an Italian man on Sunday when the former was leading the Sunday mass at St Matthews Church in Melbourne.

According to a report in the Herald Sun, Reverend Tomy Kalathoor Mathew was just about to begin his 11am mass when an attacker shouted "You are Indian, a Hindu or Muslim, you cannot say mass... I will kill you!" and stabbed him in the neck.

"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 Melbourne. 

"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.

The stabbing happened in front of dozens of horrified parishioners. And while they were able to restrain the attacker temporarily, he later fled the scene.

On Sunday evening however, the Melbourne Police arrested a 72-year-old man in relation with the attack. The alleged attacker is a resident of Fawkner, reported Daily Mail

Mathew was admitted to a hospital after receiving first aid at the church. He is now said to be out of danger. 

Mathew, 48, is a native of Anakkampoyil in Kozhikode district, reported The Times of India.  

(With IANS inputs)