Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "The first Christians professed their faith in Jesus, paying with their own lives. This history is repeated daily today, all over", said Pope Francis during the Mass celebrated this morning in the chapel of Santa Marta residence, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, and expressed his closeness to Fr. Jacques Hamel’s family, who was killed on July 26 while celebrating Mass (see Fides 26/07/2016), and to the whole community of Rouen to which he belonged.
The Pope recalled that Jesus Christ is the first martyr, "the first who gave his life for us. And in this mystery of Christ begins all the history of the Christian martyrdom. From the first century until today". "Today there are Christians being murdered and tortured, and are experiencing suffering because they do not deny Jesus. In this history, we reach our dear Jacques. He is part of this chain of martyrs. Christians who today suffer, either in jail, with their death or tortures for not denying Christ make us see the cruelty of this persecution. And this cruelty that asks for apostasy - let us say the word - is satanic. Although he did not mention any religion in particular, Francis did say that he wished all faiths would say that: 'Killing in the name of God is satanic'."
Father Jacques was a good man, a man of peace, but "was killed like a criminal", the Pope said, indicating a reason for reflection: "amidst the difficult moment he was living, amidst the tragedy that he saw coming, this humble, good man, who worked for fraternity, did not lose the lucidity to accuse and clearly named his assassin. He said clearly: ‘Satan, go!'.
He gave his life for us so as not to deny Jesus. He gave his life in the same sacrifice of Jesus in the altar... He is a martyr and martyrs are beatified! The Pope asked the faithful to pray for his intercession, so that he "gives us the courage to say the truth: to kill in the name of God is satanic". (SL) (Agenzia Fides 14/09/2016)