Only a week ago, on July 26, Muslim terrorists invaded the small Normandy church of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray as Mass was being said. The priest, 85-year-old Jacques Hamel, two women religious, and the congregation were taken prisoner. The Muslim terorists, both 19-years-old, one was born in France and the other in Algeria, filmed themselves pledging allegiance to ISIS and then they forced an 84-year-old parishioner to film them as they slashed the throat of Father Hamel.
At yesterday’s funeral Mass in Rouen, France, we learned more about the last moments of Father Hamel from Archbishop Dominique Lebrun:
The elderly French priest murdered by two ISIS fanatics during morning mass tried to fight back against his killers while screaming ‘Go away, Satan’, it emerged at his funeral today.
Leading a moving service to 85-year-old Father Jacques Hamel, the archbishop of Rouen revealed that the parish priest used his feet to kick out at the extremists during the attack at a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.
Hundreds of priests and bishops filled Rouen cathedral this afternoon, along with hundreds more mourners, to pay tribute to the priest who was slaughtered by two jihadis who stormed the quiet mass ceremony a week ago.
Addressing the solemn mourners during the two-hour Mass ceremony today, Archbishop Dominique Lebrun said: ‘Evil is a mystery. It reaches heights of horror that take us out of the human.
‘Isn’t that what you wanted to say, Jacques, with your last words, when you fell to the ground? After you were struck by the knife, you tried to push away your assailants with your feet and said, ‘Go away, Satan.’ You repeated it, ‘Go away, Satan.”
With those words, Archbishop Lebrun said, ‘You expressed … your faith in the goodness of humans and that the devil put his claws in.’
The story of Father Hamel’s death and his eulogy, however, provide a dramatic departure from the craven approach taken by both the Vatican bureaucracy and Pope Francis. Both decried the murder but treated it as though it was some random street crime and not a calculated assault upon a Christian congregation and Catholic priest by adherents of a form of Islam commonly practiced throughout the world.
Pope Francis is horrified and shocked by an attack in a church in Rouen, in northern France, where a priest was slain and another hostage was seriously wounded.
A statement released by Fr Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office said: “we are particularly shocked because this horrible violence took place in a Church, in which God’s love is announced, with the barbarous killing of a priest and the involvement of the faithful”.
Fr Lombardi also said the Pope shares the pain and the horror caused by this absurd violence and expresses firm condemnation of every form of hatred and prays for the victims.
By the time this statement had been issued we already knew the identities of the attackers and what happened in the Church.
In virtually any Muslim nation you find violence perpetrated upon its Christian minority either directly by the state or by the state instigating mob violence and then standing by. To add insult to injury, the Pope further expounded:
Antoine Marie Izoarde, from i.Media: The question is a little difficult; Catholics are a bit in shock, and not only in France, after the barbarous assassination of Fr. Jacques Hamel – as you know well – in his church while celebrating the Holy Mass. Four days ago you here told us that all religions want peace. But this holy, 86-year-old priest was clearly killed in the name of Islam. So Holy Father, I have two brief questions: why do you, when you speak of these violent events, always speak of terrorists, but never of Islam, never use the word Islam? And then, aside from prayer and dialogue, which are obviously essential, what concrete initiatives can you advise or suggest in order to counteract Islamic violence?
Pope Francis: I don’t like to speak of Islamic violence, because every day, when I browse the newspapers, I see violence, here in Italy. this one who has murdered his girlfriend, another who has murdered the mother-in-law. and these are baptized Catholics! There are violent Catholics! If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence . . . and no, not all Muslims are violent, not all Catholics are violent. It is like a fruit salad; there’s everything. There are violent persons of this religion. this is true: I believe that in pretty much every religion there is always a small group of fundamentalists. Fundamentalists. We have them.
This is simply sophistry; it is dishonest flimflammery of the worst kind.
In the words of Father George Rutler writing in Crisis Magazine:
A Vatican spokesman said that the killing of Father Hamel was “absurd.” That is not so if one understands the logic of the Quran and the “arationality” of Allah who is pure will not subject to reason. Not even the vast numbers of kind and sympathetic Muslims in many lands can alter the indelible texts that are said to come directly from an inspired mouth and cannot be changed. In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis wrote: “…authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Quran are opposed to every form of violence.” More perplexing than this wishful eisegesis is the earnest effort of our Holy Father to preserve peace where there is no peace. On May 16, he told the French newspaper La Croix: “It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam, however, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same conquest.” Now, it is indeed possible to interpret the Gospel that way, but to do so would require Christ crucifying instead of being crucified, and the apostles beheading instead of being beheaded. The pope also said he “dreaded” the term “Christian roots of Europe” because of its “colonialist overtones.” But those overtones have been the clarions of human dignity and the heralds of moral freedom.
During his flight back from Poland, Pope Francis said, “when I go through the newspapers, I see violence: this man kills his girlfriend, another who kills his mother-in-law. And these are baptized Catholics. If I speak of Islamic violence I must speak of Catholic violence.” The problem here is the lame equation of Jihad and domestic violence. A soldier knows the difference between genocide and shouting across the breakfast table. The Holy Father is moved by the sentiments of a generous heart, but informal and unsystematic streams of consciousness on airplanes, however well intentioned, are not made altruistic by being spoken at a high altitude.
The conflating of organized violence directed at non-Muslims by Muslims with individualized violence, regardless of religion, is so bizarre as to leave you shaking your head. In virtually every case where you find “Catholic violence” you actually find that Catholicism, or Protestantism, or Orthodoxy is a proxy for a much deeper political or ethnic struggle. It was easy to gloss over the war in Northern Ireland as “religious” but religion was a proxy for a very political struggle and there was never a 100% tracking of the combatants with religion. Similarly in the Balkans of the 1990s, Catholic Croat, Muslim Bosniaks, and Orthodox Serbs went at one another hammer and tongs in what had the trappings of a religious war but the fact that the conflict, particularly the Catholic vs. Orthodox part, never was able to leap into any of the other multi-ethnic polities surrounding the former Yugoslavia indicates there was much more at play here than religion. Not so in Europe. The unifying feature of the perpetrators of the attacks in Paris, Nice, and Brussels has not been nationality or poverty or lack of education. The common denominator is that they were Muslims.
But I will go one better. Please, Pope Francis, discuss Catholic inspired violence against other religions every time it happens. I can’t imagine anyone objecting and, as the Bishop of Rome, it should be your duty to preach against this plague of Catholic mobs sacking Muslim neighborhoods and gutting harmless imams. Because what you seem to be saying is that this violence exists and you are tacitly supporting it by your silence.
No one is saying that all Muslims are violent or that non-Muslims are not violent. The issue is the unique role Islam plays in feeding terror attacks on non-Muslim populations. It is tragic that a priest who died for his faith is being virtually disowned rather than honored by his Pope.