Just before having his throat slit by two Islamic terrorists in northern France last week, Father Jacques Hamel told one of his assailants, “Be gone, Satan!”, according to the priest’s bishop.
In his homily at the martyred priest’s funeral Mass on Tuesday, Rouen’s Archbishop Dominique Lebrun gave details of the last moments of the priest’s life as he was slaughtered for his Christian faith.
“Evil is a mystery that reaches summits of horror beyond what is human,” the Archbishop said. “Is that not what you meant, Jacques, by your last words? Falling to the ground after the first stab, you try to push away your attacker with your feet saying, ‘Go away Satan!’”
The archbishop said that the priest then repeated a second time: “Be Gone, Satan!”
During the same homily, with members of the Muslim community present, Archbishop Lebrun explicitly addressed those who may be tempted by jihad.
“You who are tormented by diabolical violence, you who are drawn to kill by a demonic, murderous madness, pray to God to free you from the devil’s grip,” he said. “We pray for you, we pray to Jesus who healed all those who were under the power of evil.”
Many thousands attended the two-hour funeral Mass held at the Rouen cathedral, despite the rain and unprecedented security, to pay a final tribute to the priest killed in the attack in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.
Symbolically, a stole was placed on a large cross, because the priest’s death was “similar to that of Christ, unjustly condemned and put to death,” according to a statement from the archdiocese.
In a separate memorial Mass celebrated for the French priest, Paris Cardinal André Vingt-Trois told the Christian faithful that jihadists “wrap themselves in the trappings of religion” while announcing a “God of death,” whom the cardinal compared to the ancient pagan god “Moloch”—a demon who demanded live human sacrifices as a tribute.
“Those who wrap themselves in the trappings of religion to mask their deadly project,” Vingt-Trois said, “those who want to announce to us a God of death, a Moloch that would rejoice at the death of a man and promise paradise to those who kill while invoking him, these cannot expect humanity to yield to their delusion.”
The comparison between the “Allah” of the Islamists and the monstrous “Moloch” of ancient pagan peoples was especially forceful, since Christians have generally understood Muslims to be an Abrahamic religion, and a “people of the book.” Moloch, on the contrary, was a demon who demanded infant sacrifices, often identified with the Carthaginian god Baal.
Cardinal Vingt-Trois ended his homily by urging the faithful to be courageous and to find their strength in the Lord.
“Though they fight against you, they shall not prevail, for I am with you, to save and rescue you, says the Lord. I will rescue you from the hand of the wicked, and ransom you from the power of the violent,” the Cardinal said, quoting the Prophet Jeremiah.
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