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Murder of Jacques Hamel - huge distance to travel and much praying to be done if peace is to be given a chance

By Fr Aidan Troy

Published 27/07/2016

This picture obtained on the website of the Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray parish on July 26, 2016 shows late priest Jacques Hamel celebrating a mass on June 11, 2016 in the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy. AFP/Getty Images
This picture obtained on the website of the Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray parish on July 26, 2016 shows late priest Jacques Hamel celebrating a mass on June 11, 2016 in the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy. AFP/Getty Images
A vehicle of anti-terror Vigipirate plan, dubbed "Operation Sentinelle", is parked outside Saint-Jerome church in Toulouse, southwestern France on July 26, 2016, during a mass in tribute to the victims of the attack in the Normandy city of Saint-Etienne du Rouvray's church in which a priest was killed in the latest of a string of attacks against Western targets claimed by or blamed on the Islamic State jihadist group. French President said that two men who attacked a church and slit the throat of a priest had "claimed to be from Daesh", using the Arabic name for the Islamic State group. Police said they killed two hostage-takers in the attack in the Normandy town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, 125 kilometres (77 miles) north of Paris. / AFP PHOTO / ERIC CABANISERIC CABANIS/AFP/Getty Images
People attend a mass at the Notre-Dame cathedral on July 26, 2016 in Paris, in memory of a priest killed earlier today in the Normandy city of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, in the latest of a string of attacks against Western targets claimed by or blamed on the Islamic State jihadist group. French President Francois Hollande said that two men who attacked a church and slit the throat of a priest had "claimed to be from Daesh", using the Arabic name for the Islamic State group. Police said they killed two hostage-takers in the attack in the Normandy town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, 125 kilometres (77 miles) north of Paris. / AFP PHOTO / GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELTGEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images
Hooded Police officers conduct a search in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy, France, following an attack on a church that left a priest dead, Tuesday, July 26, 2016. Two attackers invaded a church Tuesday during morning Mass near the Normandy city of Rouen, killing an 84-year-old priest by slitting his throat and taking hostages before being shot and killed by police, French officials said. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Police officers stand in front of a building during a search operation in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy, France, following an attack on a church that left a priest dead, Tuesday, July 26, 2016. Two attackers invaded a church Tuesday during morning Mass near the Normandy city of Rouen, killing an 84-year-old priest by slitting his throat and taking hostages before being shot and killed by police, French officials said. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French policemen stand near an armoured vehicle of the French Research and Intervention Brigade (BRI) police during a search in a house on July 26, 2016 in the Normandy village of Saint-Etienne du Rouvray after a priest was killed in the latest of a string of attacks against Western targets claimed by or blamed on the Islamic State jihadist group. French President said that two men who attacked a church and slit the throat of a priest had "claimed to be from Daesh", using the Arabic name for the Islamic State group. Police said they killed two hostage-takers in the attack in the Normandy town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, 125 kilometres (77 miles) north of Paris. / AFP PHOTO / MATTHIEU ALEXANDREMATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images
A French policeman stands near an armoured vehicle of the French Research and Intervention Brigade (BRI) police during a search in a house on July 26, 2016 in the Normandy village of Saint-Etienne du Rouvray after a priest was killed in the latest of a string of attacks against Western targets claimed by or blamed on the Islamic State jihadist group. French President said that two men who attacked a church and slit the throat of a priest had "claimed to be from Daesh", using the Arabic name for the Islamic State group. Police said they killed two hostage-takers in the attack in the Normandy town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, 125 kilometres (77 miles) north of Paris. / AFP PHOTO / MATTHIEU ALEXANDREMATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images
French policemen stand in the street during a search in a house on July 26, 2016 in the Normandy village of Saint-Etienne du Rouvray after a priest was killed in the latest of a string of attacks against Western targets claimed by or blamed on the Islamic State jihadist group. French President said that two men who attacked a church and slit the throat of a priest had "claimed to be from Daesh", using the Arabic name for the Islamic State group. Police said they killed two hostage-takers in the attack in the Normandy town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, 125 kilometres (77 miles) north of Paris. / AFP PHOTO / CHARLY TRIBALLEAUCHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images
In this grab made from video, French President Francois Hollande shakes hands with police and security services personnel after arriving at the scene of the hostage situation in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray Normandy, France, Tuesday, July 26, 2016. Two attackers took hostages inside a French church during morning Mass on Tuesday near the city of Rouen, killing an 86-year-old priest by slitting his throat before being shot and killed by police, French officials said. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack. (France Pool via AP)
French soldiers stand guard as they prevent the access to the scene of an attack in Saint Etienne du Rouvray, Normandy, France, Tuesday, July 26, 2016. Two attackers invaded a church Tuesday during morning Mass near the Normandy city of Rouen, killing an 84-year-old priest by slitting his throat and taking hostages before being shot and killed by police, French officials said. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French police officers prevent the access to the scene of an attack in Saint Etienne du Rouvray, Normandy, France, Tuesday, July 26, 2016. Two attackers invaded a church Tuesday during morning Mass near the Normandy city of Rouen, killing an 84-year-old priest by slitting his throat and taking hostages before being shot and killed by police, French officials said. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French soldiers stand guard near the scene of an attack in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy, France, Tuesday, July 26, 2016. Two attackers invaded a church Tuesday during morning Mass near the Normandy city of Rouen, killing an 84-year-old priest by slitting his throat and taking hostages before being shot and killed by police, French officials said. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
In this grab made from video, police officers close off a road during a hostage situation in Normandy, France, Tuesday, July 26, 2016. Two attackers seized hostages in a church near the Normandy city of Rouen on Tuesday, killing one hostage by slitting their throat before being killed by police, a security official said. The identities of the attackers and motive for the attack are unclear, according to the official, who was not authorized to be publicly named. (BFM via AP)
In this grab made from video, police officers speak to a driver as they close off a road during a hostage situation in Normandy, France, Tuesday, July 26, 2016. Two attackers seized hostages in a church near the Normandy city of Rouen on Tuesday, killing one hostage by slitting their throat before being killed by police, a security official said. The identities of the attackers and motive for the attack are unclear, according to the official, who was not authorized to be publicly named. (BFM via AP)
French policemen stand outside a house during a search in a house on July 26, 2016 in the Normandy village of Saint-Etienne du Rouvray after a priest was killed in the latest of a string of attacks against Western targets claimed by or blamed on the Islamic State jihadist group. French President said that two men who attacked a church and slit the throat of a priest had "claimed to be from Daesh", using the Arabic name for the Islamic State group. Police said they killed two hostage-takers in the attack in the Normandy town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, 125 kilometres (77 miles) north of Paris. / AFP PHOTO / MATTHIEU ALEXANDREMATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images
French police officers stand guard in front of the Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray's city hall, Normandy, France, after an attack on a church that left a priest dead, Tuesday, July 26, 2016. Two attackers invaded a church Tuesday during morning Mass near the Normandy city of Rouen, killing an 84-year-old priest by slitting his throat and taking hostages before being shot and killed by police, French officials said. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Police officers conduct a search in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy, France, following an attack on a church that left a priest dead, Tuesday, July 26, 2016. Two attackers invaded a church Tuesday during morning Mass near the Normandy city of Rouen, killing an 84-year-old priest by slitting his throat and taking hostages before being shot and killed by police, French officials said. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Following the awful events of yesterday morning at St Etienne-du-Rouvray, with the death of the priest, Jacques Hamel, people I have met here in Paris during the past hours are in deep shock and not sure what the future holds.

The first reaction of most people is to pray for the priest who has died and for those who are injured in this awful attack. This man has served people as a priest for almost 60 years.

The event yesterday morning leaves people feeling very vulnerable, especially following recent events in Nice on July 14 and since then in Germany.

France has been targeted in a sustained way by those who have perpetrated these horrific deeds for reasons of wanting to punish France for its policies at home and abroad.

Others have elaborated these policies in some detail.

Attacking innocent people, wherever it takes place, is never justified. Indeed, there are rifts within French society that will not be easily overcome.

Over the past eight years at St Joseph's I have been privileged to try to bring into unity over 40 nationalities.

Then, each year I have met with people, French and immigrant, who have requested to enter the Catholic Church from different religious traditions, including Muslims. These have been fascinating to meet over the year that the classes last.

In fact, the next class after the November 13, 2015 killings in Paris, the Muslims present gave a very moving account of their sorrow at killings in the name of religious belief.

In a school near Paris where I serve as a chaplain, there is a mix of Christians, Jews and Muslims who study and play together.

There is a huge distance to travel and a lot of praying to be done, if evil is to be overcome and peace is to be given a chance.

Fr Aidan Troy, formerly of the Holy Cross Church in Ardoyne, has been working in Paris for the past eight years

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