Aleppo (Agenzia Fides) – The tragic death of Father Jacques Hamel, the elderly French priest murdered while he was saying mass, “belongs to the great history of Christian martyrdom including the recent martyrs of the Eastern Churches”. Therefore “it deserves not to be exploited, certainly not by persons who until recently for their own interests, thought to exploit the same jihadists invoked by the priest’s young terrorist murderers ”.
This is how Georges Abou Khazen OFM, Vicar apostolic of Aleppo for the local Catholics of Latin rite, views from the Syrian martyr city yesterday morning’s tragic event in the church Saint Etienne du Rouvray, not far from Rouen. “Down through the centuries” says the Franciscan Bishop conversing with Fides, “for Christians, martyrdom has always been considered the greatest act of faith. While they mourned their martyrs, they also celebrated them as Christians who redeem all of us and save the world, because they take upon their shoulders suffering for the sake of the name of Jesus, and doing so they apply to their contemporaries the redemption brought by Christ”.
For Bishop Georges this event, so close to the mystery of salvation, shall not be disfigured by persons feigning indignation for their own political gain. “For years” says the Vicar apostolic of Aleppo “ we Bishops in the Middle East have cautioned those western powers which to safeguard their own interests do not hesitate to support those groups of fanatics which pursue jihadist ideologies. Now I see all around ferocious reactions which identify all Islam with these groups blinded by an ideology of hatred and death which seems to be spreading everywhere along unknown ways. We must be as harmless as doves and astute as serpents , as the Gospel teaches. But astuteness does not consist in letting oneself be contaminated by the poison of the snake”. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 27/7/2016).