VATICAN CITY — To demand apostasy and “to kill in the name of God is satanic,” Pope Francis said on Wednesday morning at a Mass offered for the repose of the soul of a French priest of Rouen, Father Jacques Hamel, who was slain by two Islamic terrorists in July as he was celebrating morning Mass.
“Today there are Christians murdered, tortured, imprisoned, and slaughtered because they do not deny Jesus Christ. In this history, we come to our Père Jacques: He is part of this chain of martyrs,” Pope Francis told those gathered in the Chapel of Santa Marta on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross.
“Christians who suffer today — either in prison, or by death or torture — for not denying Jesus Christ reveal the cruelty of this persecution. And this cruelty which demands apostasy — let us say the word — is satanic. And how good it would be for all religious confessions to say: “To kill in the name of God is satanic.”
Among those present at Mass was Archbishop Dominque Lebrun of Rouen, along with 80 other pilgrims from the diocese. On the altar was a simple photograph of Fr. Hamel, who was slain in the Church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray on July 26, 2016.
The liturgy was broadcast live by the Vatican Television Center.
Here below we offer our readers a translation of the pope’s homily.
Homily of Pope Francis
Mass for the repose of the soul of Father Jacques Hamel
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Feast of the Triumph of the Cross
In the Cross of Jesus Christ — today the Church celebrates the feast of the [Triumph of the] Cross of Jesus Christ — we understand fully the mystery of Christ, this mystery of self-emptying, of closeness to us. He, “though he was in the form of God,” St. Paul says, “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil: 2:6-8). This is the mystery of Christ. This is a mystery that becomes martyrdom for the salvation of men. Jesus Christ, the first Martyr, the first to give his life for us. And the entire history of Christian martyrdom, from the first centuries until today, begins from this mystery of Christ.
The first Christians confessed Jesus Christ, paying with their lives. To the first Christians, apostasy was proposed, that is: “Say that our god is the true one, not yours. Offer a sacrifice to our god or to our gods.” And when they wouldn’t do this, when they refused to apostatize, they were killed. This history is being repeated until today; and today in the Church there are more Christian martyrs than in the early days. Today there are Christians murdered, tortured, imprisoned, and slaughtered because they do not deny Jesus Christ. In this history, we come to our Père (Father) Jacques: He is part of this chain of martyrs. Christians who today suffer — either in prison, or by death or torture — for not denying Jesus Christ reveal the cruelty of this persecution. And this cruelty which demands apostasy — let us say the word — is satanic. And how good it would be for all religious confessions to say: “To kill in the name of God is satanic.”
Father Jacques Hamel had his throat slit on the Cross, precisely as he was celebrating the Sacrifice of the Cross of Christ. A good man, meek, fraternal, who always sought to make peace, was murdered as if he were a criminal. This is the satanic thread of the persecution. But there is one thing about this man who accepted his martyrdom there, with the martyrdom of Christ, at the altar; there is one thing that makes me think a lot: in the midst of the difficult moment he was experiencing, and in the midst of this tragedy which he saw coming, a gentle man, a good man, a man who fostered brotherhood, did not lose the lucidity to accuse and clearly say the name of the killer, and he said it clearly: “Be gone, Satan!” He gave his life for us, he gave his life in order not to deny Jesus. He gave his life in the same Sacrifice of Jesus on the altar and from there he accused the author of persecution: “Be gone, Satan!”.
And may this example of courage, but also the martyrdom of his own life, of emptying himself to help others, of fostering brotherhood among men, help us all to go forward without fear. May he, from heaven, because we should pray to him; he is a martyr, and the martyrs are blessed; we should pray to him — give us the meekness, the spirit of fraternity, peace and also the courage to speak the truth: To kill in the name of God is satanic.