Belfast Telegraph

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

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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