In recalling the murder of Father Jacques Hamel in France during a homily held in honor of the fallen priest at the Vatican, Pope Francis avowed, "This cruelty that asks for apostasy, is satanic." The pontiff's comments reference acts of terrorism, in which people claimed to be killing in the name of God. Pope Francis Pope strongly condemned the identification of terrorism with Islam and now said killing in God's name is a satanic act.
Hamel, 85, was killed in his own sanctuary while celebrating Mass this July. Two men with knives entered the small church and slit his throat, an attack that horrified people across France and the world. The Islamic State representatives claimed responsibility for the attack, indicating the two assailants, who were shot dead by the police, were "soldiers" retaliating against the United States-led coalition fighting the group in Iraq and Syria, reports New York Times.
The Pope has called on leaders of all religions to tell their followers that it is Satan's work to kill others in God's name.
The Pope called Father Hamel a "martyr" due to his heroic death at the hands of two youth. One of the onlookers revealed the youth performed "some kind of religious rite" before they slit the priest's throat, reports World Religion News. The priest is reported to have uttered the words "go away Satan," a phrase that Pope Francis attributes to his holiness.
Pope Francis said that even in the face of that tragedy, the priest had the wisdom to recognize the real assassin: Satan.
The Pope also described Father Hamel as a "gentle, good man of brotherly love, " indicating the priest is on his way to beatification because "he accepted martyrdom at the altar of Christ and gave up his life refusing to deny Christ." The Pope observed that such individuals should are martyrs, and "martyrs are beatified."
The sermon also included the Pope's view on martyrdom in the present age. He observed that in today's world there are more martyrs than there were when Christianity began.
He added that current Christians are getting their "throats slit, are tortured, jailed or assassinated" due to their refusal to deny Christ. He reminded that history is being repeated, in that the first Christians were forced to either continue worshiping Christ and die, or to worship the pagan gods and live.
A number of Christians from France attended the Mass for Father Hamel. The gathering included the Archbishop of Rouen, Dominique Lebrun, Father Hamel's sister, Cardinal of France Jean-Louis Pierre Tauran and other French citizens.