Monday 20 February 2017

We don't grow strong by being unafraid of evil - we must face it and urge all religions to stand together

Michael Kelly

Published 28/07/2016 | 02:30

Women pay tribute at the town hall in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen in Normandy, France, where Father Jacques Hamel was killed. Photo: Reuters/Pascal Rossignole
Women pay tribute at the town hall in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen in Normandy, France, where Father Jacques Hamel was killed. Photo: Reuters/Pascal Rossignole

Tuesday morning started out like any other morning for Fr Jacques Hamel. He celebrated Mass with a small group of parishioners. The Eucharist - in which Catholics believe the sacrifice of Christ is re-presented in time - was central to the life of Fr Jacques ever since his ordination in 1958. He was part of a generation of idealistic young Frenchmen who joined the priesthood following the horrors of World War II, knowing a better world was not only possible, but necessary if humanity was to have a future.

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Little did he know that during that mass - mirroring Christ's Last Supper before his death - his blood would be mingled with the blood of Christ and he would be ever remembered by Catholics worldwide as a martyr.

But the greatest tribute we can pay to Fr Jacques is to ensure his death does not provoke the kind of reactionary backlash his killers wanted. The murderous events in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray have cast a dark shadow across civilised people and exposed the odious wickedness at the heart of the Islamist ideology. It has also brought the horrors of Islamist terrorism very close to home.

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