“We bring the testimony of a priest,” Father Jacques Hamel, who “who was faithful to the end. It was a grace given to him, probably for the Church,” said Monsignor Dominique Lebrun to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, on April 10, 2019. In the late morning, the French Archbishop and some 40 young people brought the diocesan investigation to the Vatican for the Beatification of the priest, murdered on July 26, 2016, in the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.
Archbishop Lebrun of the diocese of Rouen, to which Father Hamel belonged, handed the Dicastery the six boxes (three boxes of documents and two copies), sealed with red wax last March 9. Therefore, the process of Father Hamel’s Beatification has entered the Roman phase; it will be treated as a priority, assured the Dicastery’s Prefect, Cardinal Becciu..
Some 40 students of the diocese conveyed — and brought under rain — to Rome the six boxes including testimonies on the 85-year-old priest, killed while he was celebrating Mass. Stopping in the Eternal City in the framework of their pilgrimage to Assisi — a tradition of the diocese for the past 75 years — they accompanied their Bishop for this “unique moment in the life of a Bishop and in the life of young people,” said the Archbishop of Rouen.
Archbishop Lebrun stressed the “requirement” of the fact of being a Christian represents today. “In high school, it’s not easy to say one is a Christian before the Philosophy professor,” he said to them, but it’s “the price of freedom.” Recalling the Gospel passage of the Day (John 8:31-42), in which Jesus says ”If you continue in my word . . . you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free,” the French Archbishop exhorted the young people “to make choices to be free.” “Let’s continue to choose Christ,” he said before praying an “Our Father” with them, “for the Pope, his collaborators and our diocese.”
In the course of this informal meeting, Cardinal Becciu explained briefly to the French young people the procedure entrusted henceforth to his Dicastery, called familiarly, “the factory of saints.” In the present case, a miracle isn’t necessary to declare the Servant of God Jacques Hamel Blessed if, as the testimonies attest, one can show that he was killed “in hatred against God,” “just because he was a priest.”
Responding to a youth’s question, he said he had been “shocked” and felt “a great sadness” on learning of the murder, which happened “after other terrible events in France.” However, he added, it was “permitted by the Lord to reinforce our faith.” “The example of his faithfulness to the end” invites us to “have the courage, even to make the sign of the cross in a restaurant.”
“It’s not difficult to be a saint,” he continued. This is done “step by step,” letting the Word enter our heart.” And the Cardinal exhorted the young people to read the Pope’s recent exhortation to young people. “There is an impressive list of young Saints.” It’s not necessary “to be a priest or to enter a monastery” to be a saint, he stressed.
Finally, to the young people who were impatient to know the probable duration of the process, Cardinal Becciu assured them with humour: “You are young, you will see it soon.” Although there are some 1,500 dossiers in progress in the Congregation’s office, Father Hamel’s case “is a priority,” because, he confided, it’s “the Holy Father’s wish.”
Father Jacques Hamel had his throat cut by two Islamist terrorists in the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, in the diocese of Rouen in Normandy, while he was celebrating Mass. A year later, on July 26, 2017, Pope Francis honoured his memory on his Instagram account, publishing a photo of the Mass he celebrated in memory of the priest, with pilgrims of the diocese, on September 14, 2016. It was accompanied by this message: “We remember today Father Jacques Hamel who, with so many other martyrs of our time, gave his life in the service of others.”