A 72-year-old man has been charged over the brutal attack on a Catholic priest at a Melbourne church.
The Fawkner man is accused of stabbing Tomy Kalathoor Mathew, 48, in the neck moments before the priest was due to give the 11am Italian mass on Sunday at St Matthews.
The man was charged with intentionally and recklessly causing injury and will appear in the Broadmeadows Magistrates' Court on June 13.
Reverend Tomy Kalathoor Mathew (pictured), 48, was stabbed in the neck at St Matthew's Parish in Melbourne as he was about to begin Italian mass
The offender has been taken to hospital for assessment, police say.
The attack was described as 'appalling' by the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.
'This is appalling behaviour and people should never be treated like this,' Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne spokesman Shane Healy said.
He added: 'This fellow is doing wonderful work for his parishioners and this is really a blight on the great work that many, many Catholic priests are doing.'
Rev Mathew was taken to a nearby hospital in a stable condition.
Vicar General Monsignor Greg Bennet said the priest was doing well in hospital and wanted to get back to work soon.
He said: 'His thoughts are only for his parishioners.'
The attacker allegedly yelled 'you are Indian, a Hindu or Muslim, you cannot say mass... I will kill you,' church officials told the Herald Sun.
Rev Mathew leading mass at the parish where he was stabbed by an unknown man
They began to argue and the man allegedly produced a kitchen knife from his pants and stabbed Rev 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.
Later on Sunday evening, the man was arrested in connection with the stabbing
The alleged attacker was seen hanging around the church last weekend but has not attended any services.
Rev Mathew has been the parish priest of St Matthew's since late 2014 and was well-liked by congregation members, who were shocked by the attack.
The attacker allegedly told him 'you are Indian, a Hindu or Muslim, you cannot say mass... I will kill you,' before arguing and stabbing him in the neck
Rev Mathew was not seriously injured in the brazen attack but was rushed to hospital after his flock gave him first aid inside the church
Rev Mathew has been the parish priest of St Matthew's (pictured) since late 2014 and was well-liked by congregation members, who were shocked by the attack