July 27, 2016 (Rorate Caeli) — The first martyr in European territory at the hands of Islam, Father Jacques Hamel, was murdered while celebrating Holy Mass on July 26th in the parish church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy. Two Muslims praising Islam, burst into the church, and after taking some of the faithful hostage, cut the priest’s throat, at the same time critically wounding another faithful present. There are no doubts about the identity of the aggressors and the anti-Christian hatred that motivated them. Through the press agency Amaq, the Islamic State called the assailants “our soldiers”.
The name of Jaques Hamel is added to that of thousands of Christians who are burnt, crucified and decapitated everyday in hatred of their faith. However, the July 26th massacre marks a turning point since it is the first time it has happened in Europe, casting a shadow of fear and alarm over our continent.
It is certainly not possible to guard 50,000 religious buildings in France, and a similar number of churches, parishes and sanctuaries in Italy and other countries. Every priest is the object of possible attacks, destined to increase, owing to the emulation effect that follows these crimes.
“How many deaths are needed, how many heads decapitated, for the European governments to understand the situation the West finds itself in?” asked Cardinal Robert Sarah.
What is it going to take, we add, for Cardinal Sarah’s confreres in the College of Cardinals, starting with the Supreme Head, the Pope himself, to understand the terrifying situation in which not only the West finds itself in, but the entire Universal Church? What makes this situation so terrible are the politics of do-goodism and false mercy with regard to Islam and all of the Church’s enemies. Certainly, Catholics must pray for their enemies, but they also have to be aware that they have them, and they mustn’t limit themselves to praying for them, but have the duty to fight them. It is the Catechism of the Catholic Church which teaches this in n.2266, when it says that legitimate defence may also be a grave duty for those responsible for the lives of others: “Preserving the common good of society requires rendering the aggressor unable to inflict harm.”
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Pope Francis was said to be “especially upset by this act of violence which took place in a church during the liturgy of the Mass and implored the peace of God for the world”, once again refusing to call the assassins by name. Pope Bergoglio’s silence is parallel to that of Muslims from all over the globe who don’t denounce forcefully and in an unanimous, collective manner, the crimes committed in Allah’s name by their co-religionists. Yet, even the President of the French Republic, Francois Hollande, in his discourse to the nation on Tuesday evening, spoke of France’s open war against ISIS.
During his pontificate, the Pope has beatified with super-rapid procedures some 20th century figures, like Oscar Arnulfo Romero and Don Pino Puglisi* who were certainly not killed in hatred of the Catholic faith. Yet on May 12th 2013, he also canonized in St. Peter’s Square, the eight hundred martyrs of Otranto, massacred on August 11th 1480 by the Turks for not renouncing their faith.
If Pope Francis announced the start of the process for Father Hamel’s beatification, he would give the world a peaceful but strong and eloquent sign of the will of the Church to defend its identity. If, on the other hand, he continues to be under the illusion about a possible ecumenical agreement with Islam, he will repeat the same errors of those wretched politics which sacrificed the victims of the Communist persecution on the altars of Ostpolitik. However, the altar of politics is different from the holy altar in which the unbloody Sacrifice of Christ is celebrated. Father Jacques Hamel received the grace of uniting himself to this sacrifice, offering his own blood, on July 26th.
* Killed by the Mafia in Palermo in 1993
Translated from Il Tempo by Francesca Romana, and reprinted with permission from Rorate Caeli.