DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - French priest Father Jacques Hamel, slain by two ISIS terrorists in the middle of saying Mass, is on track to being canonized. Hamel was murdered by two 19-year-olds on July 26, 2016, who slit his throat and took hostages before being gunned down by police. The murder of the 85-year-old priest took place in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy, on July 26th, 2016.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack at the church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy in the north of France.
Immediately following the attack, the French bishops chose to designate July 29 as a day of fasting. Monsignor Olivier Ribadeau Dumas of the French Bishops Conference commented, "What happened in France has happened in other countries before, and actually we see Christians laying down their lives in the interests of their faith."
Although there is ordinarily a five-year wait before the cause of sainthood can be opened, Pope Francis told the press on a flight to Rome from Azerbaijan that he was allowing an exception in the case of Fr. Hamel. Last September, the Holy Father referred to Fr. Hamel as a martyr.
Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen announced on Holy Thursday that the diocese was beginning the inquiry, which kicks off the beatification process. "If it concludes positively," the diocese said in a communique to the French press, "the martyrdom of Fr. Jacques Hamel will then be officially recognized, according to the criterion of the Catholic Church."
Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney commented at the time in response to the killing that Fr. Hamel had been killed in odium fidei, or "in hatred of the faith."
"The two terrorists meant to go into a Catholic church," Fisher had said. "They meant to kill a priest of Jesus Christ. They meant to take nuns and faithful laity as hostages."
Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, OFM of Aleppo, Syria, remarked:
[F]or Christians, martyrdom has always been considered the greatest act of faith. While they mourned their martyrs, they also celebrated them as Christians who redeem all of us and save the world, because they take upon their shoulders suffering for the sake of the name of Jesus, and doing so they apply to their contemporaries the redemption brought by Christ.
As recently as October, Cdl. Raymond Burke, former head of the Apostolic Signatura, has been vocal about the dangers Islam presents to Christian civilization. Church Militant reported on his remarks to Il Giornale in which he commented on the Islamists' goal of conquest: "It is clear that Muslims have as an ultimate goal conquest and power over the world. Islam, through the Sharia, their law, will rule the world and allow violence against the infidels, like the Christians."
Section 2473 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: "Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the Faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity. He bears witness to the truth of the Faith and of Christian doctrine. He endures death through an act of fortitude."
The catechism goes on to quote St. Ignatius of Antioch: "Let me become the food of the beasts, through whom it will be given me to reach God."