Tuesday 27 September 2016

There are rifts here that will be difficult to heal

Fr Aidan Troy

Published 27/07/2016 | 02:30

Believers pray in Tours' cathedral, central France during a mass in tribute to the priest killed in Saint-Etienne du Rouvray. Photo: AFP/Getty
Believers pray in Tours' cathedral, central France during a mass in tribute to the priest killed in Saint-Etienne du Rouvray. Photo: AFP/Getty

Following the awful events yesterday at St Etienne-du-Rouvray, people I have met here in Paris during the past hours are in deep shock and not sure what the future holds. The first reaction of most people is to pray for the priest who has died and those who have been injured in this awful attack. This man has served people as a priest for almost 60 years.

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The killing leaves people feeling very vulnerable, especially following recent events in Nice and Germany.

France has been targeted in a sustained way by those who have perpetrated these horrific deeds, who want to punish France for its policies at home and abroad.

Others have elaborated on these policies in some detail. Attacking innocent people wherever it takes place is never justified. Indeed, there are rifts within French society that will not be easily overcome.

Over the past eight years working at St Joseph's school in Paris I have been privileged to try to bring into unity more than 40 nationalities.

Each year I have met with people, French and immigrant, who have requested to enter the Catholic Church from different religious traditions, including Muslims. These have been fascinating to meet.

In fact, after the November 2015 killings in Paris, the Muslims present gave a very moving account of their sorrow at killings in the name of religious belief.

In the school near Paris where I serve as a chaplain, there is a mix of Christians, Jews and Muslims who study and play together. There is a huge distance to travel and a lot of praying to be done, if evil is to be overcome and peace is to be given a chance.

Fr Aidan Troy, formerly of the Holy Cross Church in Ardoyne, has been working in Paris since 2008

Irish Independent

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