". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Days Apart, a Bishop and a Priest Are Attacked during Church Services in Australia and Myanmar

April 15, 2024

In a pair of brazen attacks that occurred over the weekend, an Assyrian Orthodox bishop was stabbed during a livestreamed church service in Australia and a Catholic priest was shot multiple times during a Mass in Myanmar. Experts say the attacks are “a shocking wake-up call” to the anti-Christian persecution on the rise across the globe.

During a livestreamed event at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley, Australia on Monday, a man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt approached Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel as he spoke at the front of the church and stabbed him multiple times. Three members of the congregation who rushed forward to assist the bishop were also injured by the attacker. All four survived the attack having suffered several lacerations, and the man was taken into custody.

The assailant reportedly told church members who had subdued him at the scene that Emmanuel “was getting involved in my religion so I came to get involved in his.” In recent years, Emmanuel has gained a large following on social media for his outspoken views against the COVID lockdowns and vaccine mandates in Australia, comparing Islamic beliefs to Christian beliefs, critiquing Pope Francis, and other controversial topics.

Just days prior to the attack in Australia, two masked gunmen stormed St. Patrick Catholic Church in Mohnyin, Myanmar during Mass and fired multiple rounds at the parish priest, Father Paul Hkwi Shane Aung. He was reportedly struck in the jaw, hand, and thigh but survived the attack. The assailants immediately fled the scene on a motorcycle and “remained at large as of Friday afternoon.”

The attack comes in the midst of a civil war occurring in Myanmar, in which the ruling military junta is battling several allied ethnic militias for control of the country. One expert in the country observed that the attack is likely the result of “anti-social elements … fomenting religious and ethnic conflict as the civil war in the military-ruled nation has entered a critical phase.” The ruling military junta has a history of targeting Christians, including the bombing of churches and the imprisonment and killing of pastors.

Across the globe, anti-Christian persecution has sharply risen over the past year. Open Doors reports that as of now, one in seven Christians (365 million) “face high levels of persecution for their faith.” In addition, “[m]ore than 14,700 churches or Christian properties such as schools and hospitals were targeted in 2023,” marking a “six-fold increase compared with attacks recorded the previous year.”

In comments to The Washington Stand, Arielle Del Turco, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council, observed that the attacks over the weekend provide further evidence of this ongoing trend.

“Both of the attacks that occurred over the weekend are a shocking wake-up call to the reality of anti-Christian persecution around the world,” she remarked. “While there is ample evidence of anti-Christian persecution that takes place around the world, we don’t always see these attacks livestreamed. The fact that Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was stabbed repeatedly on his church’s livestream shows the world how violent and grotesque persecution is.”

Del Turco concluded, “We can praise God that Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and Father Paul Hkwi Shane Aung both survived, while we also pray for the safety of Christians around the world, especially those seeking to practice their faith, carry out their ministry, and honor God in places where it is dangerous to do so.”

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.