Assassinated French priest joins procession of martyrs, pope says

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

CITY (CNS) –- To kill in the name of God is satanic, Pope Francis said at a
special requiem Mass for a French priest assassinated by youths claiming
allegiance to the Islamic State.

“Father Jacques Hamel had his
throat slit on the cross, at the exact moment he was celebrating the sacrifice of Christ’s
cross. A good man, meek, brotherly and who always sought to make peace, was
murdered as if he were a criminal. This is the satanic line of
persecution,” the pope said Sept. 14 during a morning Mass in the chapel
of Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen and
Father Hamel’s sister, Roselyne
Hamel, along with 80 pilgrims from the diocese joined Pope Francis for
the Mass in memory of Father Hamel, who was killed July 26.

men stormed a church
in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray
near Rouen while Father Hamel celebrated Mass. After taking several hostages,
the attackers slit Father Hamel’s throat and seriously injured another
parishioner. Following a standoff, police killed the attackers, ending the
hostage situation.

the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, the pope entered the chapel dressed
in a red chasuble, the color symbolizing martyrdom. He reverently bowed before
the altar, where a picture of Father Hamel was placed in front of two lit candles.

Lebrun said he had brought the photo and asked Pope Francis to sign it with a
note for three religious women who had been with Father Hamel at Mass that day.
The sisters care for the sick in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray and were not able to
join the pilgrimage to Rome.

of signing the photo before Mass, the pope “immediately told me to put it
on the altar,” the archbishop told reporters later. “At the end of
Mass, when he was greeting everyone, he signed it and said to me, ‘You can put
this photo in the church because he is “blessed” now, and if anyone says you aren’t allowed,
tell them the pope gave you permission.'”

In his
homily, the pope reflected on the mystery of Christ “who made himself a
martyr for the salvation of men and women.”

history of Christian martyrdom,” he said, has continued from the first
centuries until today, when “Christians
are murdered, tortured, imprisoned and beheaded because they do not deny Jesus

this history, we arrive to our Father Jacques. He is a part of this chain of
martyrs. The Christians, who suffer
today — be it in prison, in death or by torture — for not denying Jesus
Christ, show the very cruelty of this persecution. And this cruelty that asks
for apostasy, we can say, is Satanic,” the pope said.

the pope noted, Father Hamel accepted his martyrdom and in his final moments,
“did not lose the lucidity to accuse and clearly say the name of his
murderer. He clearly said, ‘Be gone, Satan.'”

example of courage, as well as the martyrdom of his own life when he gave
himself to help others, to help create brotherhood, helps us to go forward
without fear,” the pope said.

Hamel’s sister, Roselyne, told reporters after the Mass she is convinced that
neither her brother nor Pope Francis were blaming Islam for the murders.
“God is love,” Roselyn said, the assassins who “killed my
brother did so in the name of a god who is not the God of Islam nor the God of

assassins, I think, acted under the influence of the devil, of Satan,”
Archbishop Lebrun said. When Father Hamel said, “‘Be gone, Satan,’ he had
already been stabbed and was on the floor. His sister immediately gave me a
correct interpretation: ‘Father Jacques did not believe these young men were
the origin of this evil.'”

archbishop said that since the murder there has been an obvious increase in
fear among the people of the region and priests have reported receiving dozens
of phone calls asking if it is safe to go to church. “But there are more
people at Mass now,” he said.

never said it was stupid to be afraid,” Archbishop Lebrun told reporters.
When he tells his disciples, “Do not be afraid,” he is telling them
to acknowledge their fear and overcome it with the strength of faith.

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to this story was Cindy Wooden.

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