Father Jacques Hamel, A good priest in France – From the report in the Guardian UK
Father Jacques Hamel: 'A good priest … who did his job to the very end'
(Note: “Barbaric killing” and “horrific violence … in a church, a sacred place where the love of God is declared”, reacted the Vatican in a statement. Looking at the face of Jacques Hamel exuding compassion one is reminded of the biblical phrase:”behold the man”. Hamel is 85, past retirement age, still exemplary in doing a self-imposed duty to serve, while many in the priestly class with better health, much younger in age, waste their precious time doing nothing in the name of deserved retirement. How could the ISIS terrorists press the knife to his throat? It is another mystery as hard to unravel as the crucifixion itself, a paradox proclaiming: “It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” Is not Jesus crucified more powerful than a mendicant preacher of good news?
It makes us all, firm believers in the final triumph of truth, goodness and love leading to the climax of a civilization of peaceful world thronging with people of goodwill shudder in wonder and ask: what is going wrong? Are we all wrong in our thinking and conviction to stick on to the path of peace and non-violence? Is the ISIS alone in the wrong track? Is there no power on earth which can domesticate this wild animal, ISIS, spreading doom and distruction? Declaring one’s bankrupcy is not the answer. Joint ventures should be undertaken until this destructive force is domesticated. james kottoor, editor)
France was plunged into profound horror and shock for the second time in 12 days when two men slit the throat of a priest as he was celebrating mass in a Normandy church on Tuesday morning.
Described as modest, dedicated and always available for his parishioners, Father Jacques Hamel, 85, who was murdered in his Normandy church while celebrating morning mass, had been retired for nearly a decade. After officially retiring at 75, he had asked to remain in the parish and continue to help when necessary, the archdiocese of Rouen said. “This man was a good man,” said the president of the regional council, Hervé Morin.
The priest’s throat was slit by two men armed with knives who took five people – Hamel, two nuns and two worshippers – hostage in the church. The two men were later shot by police. Three hostages were freed unharmed.
Parishioners said they were devastated by the murder. “My family have been here for 35 years and we have always known him,” the manager of a beauty parlour down the road from the church told L’Express magazine.
Hamel was “very discreet”, said the woman, who came to know him when she took catechism classes with him as a young girl. “He did not like to put himself forward. He was someone who was very much appreciated in the local community.”
Another neighbour told the magazine: “This was a man who did his job to the very end. He was old, but always available for everyone. He was a good priest. He had been here for many years; he lived in the rectory here. Many parishioners knew him very well.”
A nun who witnessed the murder described how the men forced Father Jacques Hamel to his knees before killing him and filmed themselves preaching in Arabic by the altar. The gruesome attack took place less than two weeks after a Tunisian man drove at high speed into a Bastille day crowd in the Riviera city of Nice, killing 84 people and injuring hundreds more.
Tuesday’s attack was described by the French president, François Hollande, as an act of terrorism carried out by two followers of Islamic State. Sister Danielle was in the church at Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, at 9.43am local time during morning mass, when the men entered and took five hostages: the priest, two nuns and two parishioners.
She fled as they killed Hamel, 85. “Everyone was shouting ‘stop, stop you don’t know what you’re doing’. They forced him to his knees; he wanted to defend himself and that’s when the drama began,” she said.
She told BFMTV, a TV news channel, that the two men filmed their attack. “They didn’t see me leave. They were busy occupied with their knives … and they were filming it. They filmed themselves preaching in Arabic in front of the altar. It was a horror. Jacques was an extraordinary priest. He was a great man, Father Jacques.