CHRISTIANITY DAILY

France Church Attacked by Jihadists Opens Doors Again to Congregation

The church in France where an elderly priest was murdered by Islamic jihadists about two months ago was reopened on October 2 after procession by priests in the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.

Hundreds of worshippers participated in the procession led by Archbishop Dominique Lebrun from the city of Rouen, and entered the old church after a cleansing ritual.

Jacques Hamel, 85, was killed by two terrorists on July 26 when he was celebrating Mass. The jihadists also held two nuns hostages and used them as human shields when police arrived. They tried to escape from the church but were shot and killed. An 87-year old parishioner Guy Coponet was injured in the attack while the two nuns were left unharmed. The extremists had pledged allegiance to ISIS.

"They killed Father Hamel but they didn't kill the Catholic faith... they didn't kill love," Lebrun said. "Love continues on its way."

The priest also called for religious tolerance, so that the misfortune meted out to drowned Syrian refugee boy Aylan and Hamel are not repeated again.

Coponet recounted the horrific incident in an interview with Christian magazine Famille Chretienne.

"The two young killers grabbed me, put a camera in my hands and said, 'film Grandpa!'"... I can't get over it," Coponet said.

Pope Francis honored Hamel and called him a martyr in a Vatican Mass held on September 14.

"This makes me think so much... amidst the difficult moment he was living, amidst the tragedy that he saw coming, this humble, good man, who worked for fraternity, didn't lose the lucidity to accuse and clearly named his assassin. He said clearly: 'Satan, go!'"

Francis called him a "martyr" and "blessed," indicating that Hamel will be elevated to sainthood.

"He gave his life for us so as not to deny Jesus," Francis said. "He is a martyr and martyrs are beatified."

Tags French church attack, Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Jacques Hamel, Archbishop Dominique Lebrun, Pope Francis

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