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All faiths must be ‘workers for peace’, says sister of Fr Jacques Hamel at funeral

An estimated 1,700 people gathered in Rouen cathedral for the funeral Mass of the murdered priest

The sister of the French priest slain by Islamist extremists appealed at his funeral on Tuesday for all faiths to work together for peace.

“Let’s learn to live together, let’s be workers for peace,” Roselyne Hamel told an estimated 1,700 people gathered in Rouen cathedral in western France for the funeral Mass for her brother, Fr Jacques Hamel. The 85-year-old priest was murdered last week at a church in the nearby town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve was among those attending the Mass in the Gothic cathedral, which dates from the 12th century. Hundreds of people watched the ceremony on a big screen outside the cathedral, under constant rain.

Archbishop Dominique Lebrun, celebrating the Mass, extended thanks to Catholics attending the service but also to “believers of other religious faiths, in particular the Jewish community and the Muslim community, very affected and already decided to unite for: ‘Never again.’”

Archbishop Lebrun invited people to return to churches on August 15, the day celebrating the Assumption of Mary, to express that “violence will not take over in their hearts.”

A photo of Fr Jacques Hamel on display during his funeral (AP)

A photo of Fr Jacques Hamel on display during his funeral (AP)

On Sunday, dozens of Muslims in France and Italy attended Catholic Masses as a gesture of interfaith solidarity following the attack on the priest.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, in which the priest, two nuns and an elderly couple were held hostage before the assailants slashed the priest’s throat and seriously wounded the other man. Another nun at the Mass slipped away and raised the alarm, and police shot dead both attackers as they left the church.

Tuesday’s ceremony was organised under tight security, and burial was to be held privately.


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