A 72-year-old man has been charged over an attack on a 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-language mass yesterday.

The older man was charged with intentionally and recklessly causing injury and bailed to appear in the Broadmeadows Magistrates' Court on June 13.

The offender has been taken to hospital for assessment, police say.

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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 told AAP yesterday.

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St. Matthew's Parish, North Fawkner
14 hours ago

We understand what has happened today has been shocking to our parish community. Fr Tomy would like to say that he is recovering well and is in good spirits. His first thoughts have been for the parishioners and the school community. To all of you, thank you so much for your prayers and thoughts.

Anyone with further information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au

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"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."

He 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.

"His thoughts are only for his parishioners," he said.

- AAP