Slain Normandy priest Fr Hamel called killers Satan, funeral service is told
The elderly French priest murdered two weeks ago by extremists tried to push his attackers off with his feet, saying “Go away, Satan”, the Archbishop of Rouen told the victim’s funeral mass yesterday.
Hundreds of people, including priests, bishops and members of the public, filled Rouen Cathedral to remember Father Jacques Hamel (85) , whose throat was slashed after he was interrupted saying mass in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.
“Evil is a mystery — it reaches heights of horror that take us out of the human,” Archbishop Dominique Lebrun said. “After you were struck by the knife, you tried to push away your assailants with your feet and said, ‘Go away, Satan.’
“(With those words) you expressed your faith in the goodness of humans that the devil put his claws in.”
The archbishop also extended his thanks to “believers of other religious faiths, in particular the Jewish community and the Muslim community” for attending the service and for their support in the aftermath of the murder.
On Sunday, dozens of Muslims in France and Italy attended Catholic Masses as a gesture of interfaith solidarity following the attack.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the incident, in which the priest, two nuns and an elderly couple were held hostage before the assailants slashed Fr Hamel’s throat and seriously wounded the other man.
Another nun at the Mass slipped away and raised the alarm, and police shot dead both attackers as they left the church.