With the murder today of 86 year old Fr Jacques Hamel while he was offering Mass in the small church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen in Normandy, the persecution of Christians in foreign lands, especially the Middle East, has come a lot closer to home. A lot closer. The Church of the west in now directly caught up in the plight of the persecuted Church abroad.
A small church on the edge of a sizeable city in a politically unremarkable part of France, Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray could be St Anywhere. What priest in France, or Germany, or Belgium, or Holland… or Britain, heads into his church on a weekday to offer Mass and has even the slightest conception that he could possibly be murdered by enemies of Christ? Continue reading “The Church of the martyrs comes closer to home”→
Monday, I head off to Quarr Abbey to participate in the Chant Forum being hosted there. No doubt the experts will reveal to me how inexpertly I sing chant! But that’s tomorrow.
News is now emerging that Fr Francois Mourad, the hermit murdered by Syrian rebels last week, was not shot during an assault on his fledgling hermitage as we were first led to believe. No – he was beheaded by jihadist rebels in front of cheering crowds, and it is was recorded on film.
The one mercy for me is that the monastery’s filtering system blocks this video (which is linked in the news story from Catholic Online). By all accounts on the Twittersphere, and elsewhere online, it is a sickening video. Don’t watch it unless you feel you need to see if the reporting is true. It will be very distressing.
In Catholic terms we have a new martyr in Fr Francois, not yet raised to the altars but surely he must be in due time. He had told his bishop recently that, given the worsening situation, he was prepared to lay down his life for Christ. Christ has called him on that. So Fr Francois willingly accepted martyrdom fort Christ, and that willingness to die for Christ as a victim of hatred for Christ is essential for his future cause for canonization. That his was murdered in hatred of Christ cannot be in any doubt.
Of course Fr Francois is the latest in a lengthening list of Christian victims of the “rebels” in Syria. Churches has been looted and destroyed, Christians killed, and the two Orthodox archbishops taken several weeks ago are yet to reappear. We must assume they are dead. Whatever the original justice in the cause of the first rebels in Syria all those months ago, the rebels are now largely jihadists of various stripes peddling a violent and hateful brand of Islam. Whatever their faults, the governments of Assad in Syria, Moubarak in Egypt and Saddam Hussein in Iraq offered protection to Christians who were able to live in relative peace and tranquility. The Middle East problem is not only about Muslim Arabs against Israel any more; it is about jihadist Islam seeking to wipe out both Judaism and Christianity, and whatever unacceptable Islamic sect gets in its way, so as to build a world caliphate. There is nothing alarmist in saying this; it is their stated aim. They are doing the Devil’s work.
We must not arm the rebels in Syria. Have our governments learned nothing?
I doubt we need to pray for Fr Francois. In fact, I intend to pray to him. I hope some proper authority introduces his cause for canonization soon. Fr Francois Mourad – santo subito! as the Italians would say.