“Father Hamel sowed peace!” said the Archbishop of Rouen, France, Monsignor Dominique Lebrun, in an interview published in L’Osservatore Romano, July 25, in preparation of the first anniversary of Father Jacques Hamel’s murder, today, July 26. The 85-year-old priest was slain a year ago by two Islamic extremist youths, while he was celebrating Mass in the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.
“His death was an extremely strong event from the human and spiritual point of view,” explained Archbishop Lebrun, who added: “in one year there have been no disagreements regarding Father Hamel.” “Different opinions were never made known that became conflictive, which is very rare,” said the prelate.
“Now that he is dead, Father Hamel is even more alive, stressed Archbishop Lebrun. “His figure of priest, simple and exemplary, questions me as Pastor and Bishop on the way of considering the life of priests, of what I expect from them in terms of ‘efficiency,’” continued the former Bishop of Saint-Etienne, transferred only two years ago, in July 2015, by Pope Francis to Normandy. “Yes, I can say that what happened has transformed me as bishop,” he affirmed.
Archbishop Lebrun described Father Hamel as a “simple and exemplary priest,” more than that, “perhaps exemplary because he was simple.” Without a doubt the death of the elderly priest affects one, it was like “the death of a martyr, the death of Jesus, namely, of an innocent who gave his life for God and who was killed while consecrating himself to God.”
For the Archbishop of the administrative center of Normandy, the history of the process of Beatification of Father Jacques Hamel began the day after his murder. “The word martyr was pronounced by many people and is found in the various letters I have received,” he said. Even if Pope Francis accelerated the process, there is no hurry. “We will take the necessary time so that things are done not only according to the canonical norms but also with great seriousness,” said Archbishop Lebrun, who foresees the result of the investigation being sent to Rome “in the span of one to three years.”
Father Hamel’s simplicity “speaks to all,” explained the Archbishop, speaking of the “reputation of holiness and of martyrdom” that accompanies the murdered priest. “He was a Catholic priest, a universal priest,” who did what a priest in Australia, in Kenya, in India or in Latin America does every day.” Father Hamel wasn’t a media priest; he was a diocesan priest, a priest and that’s it, and this speaks to all of humanity,” he concluded.