Catholic World News

French church attacked during Mass, priest murdered

July 26, 2016

Two men with knives entered a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France, during Mass and took a priest and several worshippers hostage, according to media reports.

The attackers-- who identified themselves as representatives of the Islamic State-- slit the throat of the priest, identified as Father Jacques Hamel, 85, before police killed the attackers.

“The whole of France and all Catholics are wounded,” said Prime Minister Manuel Valls. “We will stand together.” 

Pope Francis, in a telegraphed message to Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen, expressed his horror at the killing and said that he "joins in prayer with the suffering of the families and with the pain of the parish and the diocese of Rouen." He offered his prayer for "God, Father of mercy, to welcome Father Jacques Hamel in the peace of his light, and comfort the injured person." 

Noting that he was "particularly troubled to learn that this act of violence took place in a church, during Mass, a liturgical act that implores of God his peace on earth," the Holy Father prayed that God would "inspire in all thoughts of reconciliation and fraternity in this new trial."

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  • Posted by: Gil125 - Jul. 26, 2016 4:20 PM ET USA

    Pretty evident that we should not pray for him. We can safely pray to him.

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Jul. 26, 2016 8:00 AM ET USA

    A martyr, killed in hatred for the Christian faith. Elsewhere his age is variously reported as 82 or 86. A local woman calls him "very discreet and didn't like to draw attention to himself" it is not clear to me what this means, but even if it implies he was not out there very boldly preaching and evangelizing all the people of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Jesus can use his death for the advance of the Gospel in a way Fr Jacques probably did not foresee.