Support the Café

Search our Site

Priest murdered at Mass in northern France

Priest murdered at Mass in northern France

The BBC is reporting that a church in northern France came under attack this morning, with its priest murdered and hostages taken during Mass.

The armed men entered the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray during Mass, taking the priest, Fr Jacques Hamel, 84, and four other people hostage.

Police later surrounded the church and French TV said shots were fired. Both hostage-takers are now dead.

Pope Francis decried the “pain and horror of this absurd violence”.

French interior ministry spokesman, Pierre-Henri Brandet, said one of the hostages had been critically wounded.

He said the hostage-takers had been “neutralised” after coming out of the church. Police were now searching the church for explosives.

Police sources said it appeared the attackers had slit the priest’s throat with a knife.

The area has been cordoned off and police have told people to stay away.

Mr Brandet said the motive of the attackers was not immediately clear, but the investigation into the incident would be led by anti-terrorism prosecutors.

One of the men was known to the French intelligence services, French TV channel M6 has reported.

If found to be a terrorist attack, this will be only the latest in a string of such onslaughts on the people of France in the past two years.

Yesterday, Anglican Bishops in Europe responded to another, loose chain of events in Germany, where three people have attacked the public in separate incidents over the past eight days, although not all for reasons related to international terrorism. Writing after the mass shooting in Munich Friday, the Rt Rev Pierre Whalon, of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, expressed weariness at the ongoing violence.

The ACNS reports,

“Do you not hear the cries of your children, O God?,” Bishop Whalon wrote. “Have you turned a deaf ear to our petitions? Let my cry come to you, O Lord! How long? How much longer must this so-called Islamic State continue to exist? When will you bring Boko Haram and all the other imitators to an end? What about the persecutors and the persecuted elsewhere in the world? In India and Indonesia. In Pakistan and Thailand and Myanmar. How many more million Congolese are going to die? How long, O Lord, how long?!”

He continued: “Show us your love and mercy again. Please, I don’t want to write more reflections like this. And come to our aid. Give us courage to hope. Strengthen our faith. Empower us to overcome fear. Enable us to transform this world you have given us. To stanch the endless flow of blood. To give hope to the hopeless and to care for the helpless. To let no one, including our very selves, stand in the way of peace.”

Read more at ACNS.

In St-Etienne-du-Rouvray, investigations continue. The (Roman Catholic) Archbishop of Rouen spoke this morning to the tragedy.

The Archbishop of Rouen, Dominique Lebrun, who was attending a Catholic gathering in Poland, said: “I cry out to God with all men of goodwill. I would invite non-believers to join in the cry.

“The Catholic Church cannot take weapons other than those of prayer and brotherhood among men.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury responded on Twitter.

Evil attacks the weakest, denies truth & love, is defeated through Jesus Christ. Pray for France, for victims, for their communities.

Read more at the BBC.

Featured image: the church at St-Etienne-du-Rouvray. By M-Knight76
(Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
JC Fisher

Holy Father Jacques Hamel, pray for us. [I hope someone will soon write an icon for this holy martyr.]

Thom Forde

*Let Christ arise, let His enemies be scattered! Let those who hate Him flee before His Holy Face!
*Let Christ arise, let His enemies be scattered! Let those who hate Him flee before His Holy Face!
*Let Christ arise, let His enemies be scattered! Let those who hate Him flee before His Holy Face!

Prof Christopher Seitz


Pere Jacques was helping out for the vacationing priest.

This can now happen in any parish church. France is particularly vulnerable with older priests. Open buildings. Small congregations.

Pray that God halt all copy cat thinking and slow down this present drum beat.

prof christopher seitz

The parish donated the land for the mosque next door…

Cynthia Katsarelis

Well, ISIS has attacked Mosques, so being good neighbors with our Muslim sisters and brothers isn’t the only answer. But it is one.

For me, it’s been very hard to pray, all of the violence has been like a disturbance in the Force. I’m sure all the healing starts there, however.

prof christopher seitz

A [murder] of an 86 year old faithful Priest. Filmed so it can been seen by Daesh. Nuns held hostage. Anglican clergy in France are now being cautioned to lock doors once the service has begun. A list of churches to hit was discovered. Very difficult times in France, unpredictable and frightening.


Cynthia Katsarelis

And in gay bars and celebrations, at concerts and on trains, unarmed African Americans and ambushed armed police, in parks in Pakistan and the streets of Istanbul…

I’ve been in discernment about my next round of social justice work and every week brings overwhelming news.

I think we need a peace movement. A big interfaith one. The particulars can be local (like in the US we might want to deal with gun violence prevention). But peace marches, peace parades, peace teach-ins, looking at the root causes through the lens of love.

That’s what we need. And it isn’t easy to do. It’s hard to muster love when you are angry and hurting and being treated unjustly.

It might sound ridiculous, but the perpetrators in France and Germany have been young and some are long time residents. An alternative message is needed.

Gregory Orloff

May Presbyter Jacques rest in peace and rise in glory.

God of love,
once again we are beside ourselves
in the face of human evil and cruelty.
But keep us ever mindful
of what you have shown us
in the cross of Christ Jesus:
that hate and violence do not have the last word —
love and forgiveness outlive them.
And so give us minds and hearts
that can honestly and courageously pray:
Lord, keep the good in their goodness
and make the evil be good by your goodness.
Have mercy on all your children!
Let goodwill prevail in our human family!

David Carver


Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café