Jacques Hamel, 85, a beloved French priest, killed in his church

The New York Times reports: Like many people who enjoy their work, the Rev. Jacques Hamel did not want to stop. At 85, he was well past retirement age, but he kept in shape and kept on going — baptizing infants, celebrating Mass and tending to parishioners in St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray, the working-class town in Normandy where he had spent much of his life.

“He could have retired at 75 years old, but seeing how few priests were around he decided to stay and work, to continue to be of service to people, up until it all ended, tragically,” the Rev. Auguste Moanda-Phuati, the parish priest of the Église St.-Étienne, where Father Hamel worked as an auxiliary priest, said in a phone interview. “He was loved by all. He was a little like a grandfather. We were happy when he was around and worried when we hadn’t seen him in a while.”

Father Hamel was celebrating Mass on Tuesday morning when two men with knives entered the small church and slit his throat, an attack that horrified people across France and the world. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that the two assailants — who were shot dead by the police — were “soldiers” retaliating against the United States-led coalition fighting the group in Iraq and Syria. [Continue reading…]

The Age reports: On Tuesday, [Adel] Kermiche was identified by prosecutors as one of the young men who slit the throat of a Catholic priest during mass in a church in northern France. He was shot dead by police with an accomplice after they entered the Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray church near Rouen on Tuesday morning, cut the priest’s throat and seriously injured another parishioner.

Kermiche was a local teenager, born in 1997, who had tried to join IS in Syria, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said – though he failed in two attempts and instead served jail time in France.

His mother, a teacher, told the Tribune de Geneve in 2015 that the Charlie Hebdo attacks of January 2015 had “acted as a detonator” on a teen who had been cheerful, kind, sociable, music-loving and a regular mosque-goer.

“He said we could not practise our religion in peace in France,” she said. “He was speaking with words that did not belong to him. He was bewitched, like he was in a cult.” [Continue reading…]

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