Father Jacques Hamel, the 86-year-old assistant priest at the church in St Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Normandy, met his Creator last Tuesday when two Muslim men armed with knives slit his throat while chanting the Islamic takbir. The killers claimed they were sacrificing blood to avenge the 11th century Crusades. It turns out that Fr Hamel was actually a dear friend to Islam. According to his fellow members of clergy, Fr Hamel helped put aside a plot of land near the church, where he would ultimately be murdered by Islamic jihadists, for the purposes of building a mosque to serve the Muslim community in the area.
“Church authorities facilitated the giving of land beside his church to local Muslims to build a mosque, and they were given use of the parish hall and other facilities during Ramadan,” stated Father Mark Ephrem Nolan, Prior of the Benedictine Monastery of the Holy Cross.
Despite the ongoing wave of Islamic terrorism, Christians in the Rouen community where Fr Hamel was killed have made an earnest effort to welcome Muslims with open arms and open hearts.
“Efforts have been made by the Christian community to be welcoming to Muslims,” said Fr Nolan. “The Sisters even give reading lessons to Muslim kids in tower blocks.”
Both parishioners and clergy alike all attest to the fact that Fr Hamel was a humble man who put his life’s work in building personal relationships. “He led a pure, simple life, with an emphasis on building friendships,” added Fr Nolan.
Preaching tolerance and understanding, Fr Hamel always saw the light in wayward souls as opposed to the darkness. In the final pastoral letter to his parish before his unexpected death, Fr Hamel reminded the Christian congregation to “accept each other as they are,” without judgment or ridicule.
And still, Islamic terrorists took his life in a fit of hatred and rage.
There is no appeasing radical Islam. Fr Hamel embodied the very virtue of tolerance that is so valued in Judeo-Christian societies. And he was killed, unceremoniously, without due regard for his life’s work.
Fr Hamel was a good, decent man mercilessly stripped of life by a cruel world. It’s our job to make it right. It’s our job to create a society where Fr Hamel’s teachings can finally flourish. We don’t live in such a world today. The truth is, the only way to find peace is to take out the enemy.