Pope Francis tells of his sorrow and horror over barbaric slaughter in a house of God in Normandy
Pope Francis yesterday expressed "sorrow and horror" over the suspected terror attack in a French church.
He was among world leaders to pay tribute after Catholic priest Father Jacques Hamel (84) was murdered and a member of the congregation seriously injured in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, south of Rouen, Normandy.
A Vatican statement said: "We are particularly struck because this horrible violence has occurred in a church - a sacred place where we pronounce God's love - with the barbaric murder of a priest and with worshippers affected."
French president Francois Hollande travelled to the scene with interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve as police began their investigations.
In a tweet "to the families of the victims and all Catholics in France", President Hollande offered "solidarity and compassion".
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: "Evil attacks the weakest, denies truth and love, is defeated through Jesus Christ. Pray for France, for victims, for their communities."
Confirming Father Hamel's death, the Archbishop of Rouen, Dominique Lebrun, who cut short a visit to Poland to return to his diocese, said: "I cry to God with all men of goodwill. The only arms which the Catholic Church can take up are prayer and brotherhood between men."
French prime minister Manuel Valls wrote on Twitter: "All of France and all Catholics are bruised. We stand together."
Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain stood with France, adding that a terrorist attack in the UK was "highly likely".
"What is necessary is for us to work together and stand shoulder to shoulder with France," she stressed. "We offer them every support in dealing with this issue and this threat that they, and the rest of us, are facing.
"But on one thing, I think we are all absolutely clear, and that is the terrorists will not prevail.
"They are trying to destroy our way of life. They are trying to destroy our values.
"We have shared values and those values will win through and the terrorists will not win."