Pope Francis was speaking at a Mass in memory of Fr Jacques Hamel
Pope Francis honoured the French priest who was killed by Islamic extremists while celebrating Mass as a martyr on Wednesday and urged all people of faith to have the courage to denounce such killings as “satanic."
Francis celebrated a morning Mass on Wednesday in memory of Fr Jacques Hamel. Two extremists slit Fr Hamel’s throat in his church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, outside Rouen, on July 26. Police later killed them; the Islamic State group claimed responsibility.
Fr Hamel’s relatives, 80 members of his parish and the Rouen bishop attended the intimate Mass in the chapel of the Pontiff’s residence.
According to CruxNow, in his homily Pope Francis said, “This man accepted his martyrdom next to the martyrdom of Christ, on the altar," before adding, “He was beheaded on the Cross, as he was celebrating the sacrifice of Christ’s cross [the Mass]".
Francis also reportedly described Fr Hamel as “blessed", the step before sainthood.
The Pope also lamented the persecution of Christians today and denounced Fr Hamel’s slaying as the “satanic thread of persecution."
Pope Francis recalled that before being killed, Fr Hamel cried out to his killers: “Satan, get out!"
“This example of courage, and the martrydom of one’s own life, to give everything of oneself to help others, to make brotherhood among others, helps all of us to go forward without fear," Pope Francis said.
He said Fr Hamel was a martyr to whom all people of faith should pray for peace “and also the courage to tell the truth: killing in the name of God is satanic."
Rouen Bishop Dominique Lebrun was asked by reporters afterward about the implications of the Pope terming Islamic extremist attacks as “satanic." He replied: “The assassins accepted the influence of the devil."