In another incident of hate crimes, an Indian Catholic priest from Kerala was attacked by a 72-year-old Italian man in a Melbourne Church during Sunday mass.

According to report, the offender told the priest that he could lead the mass as he was an Indian and could be a Hindu or a Muslim.

“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.

The priest, who was identified as Rev Tomy Kalathoor Mathew, is said to be out of danger and Melbourne police has arrested the accused.

The attack has been described as “appalling” by the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.