Please don't call it 'senseless' violence

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jul 26, 2016

The latest atrocity by the Islamic State—the brutal murder of an elderly priest, carried out during the holy Sacrifice of the Mass—was not a senseless act. Abominable, yes. Disgusting, surely. But senseless? No. It was premeditated. It was intentional. It was part of a larger pattern. 

This is murder for a cause, also known as persecution. Father Jacques Hamel was killed out of contempt for the faith—which speaks to a case of martyrdom. 

If you believe that he is a martyr, you can't say that his murderers acted irrationally. If you believe that they acted irrationally, you can't call him a martyr.

A delusional schizophrenic might kill someone, selected at random. That would be a tragedy, but not a martyrdom. The victim might be a wonderful person; he might even be a canonizable saint. But he would not be a martyr, because he did not die as a witness to the faith. Father Hamel did.

To honor Father Hamel, tell the truth. He is the victim of a new wave of violence, a systematic campaign of Islamic persecution against the Church. He is not the first such victim; he will not be the last. The wave has not yet crested, and it will continue to gather strength as long as our leaders—in the Church and in the political world—pretend that the violence is an aberration rather than a clearly discernible pattern.

And you know what they say about the blood of martyrs? If you want more evidence that Father Hamel is a martyr, look here.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: VICTORIA01 - Jul. 28, 2016 2:55 AM ET USA

    I read that the mosque the killers attended was next door to the church in which Fr Hamel was martyred. The land for the building of the mosque was donated by the church.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Jul. 27, 2016 12:25 PM ET USA

    God will make the nature of the killing known. Let us pray for Fr. Hamel's intercession and see what happens.

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Jul. 26, 2016 4:01 PM ET USA

    Unbelievably, the priest of a neighboring parish has decided and seemingly declared to the media Fr Hamel is not a Christian martyr, rather the significance is only an attack on French life: "A priest from a neighbouring parish, who also knew Fr Hamel, passed through on his way to conduct his own mass. His message tonight will be that this is not an attack on the Catholic Church - it is merely the latest symbol of French life to be targeted." (from the BBC website)