Father Jacques Hamel: Msgr. Pontier (bishops of France), “a great witness”

“It was one of those unthinkable events making us speechless, bearing witness, becoming source of teachings for everyone”. The subject is the death of Father Jacques Hamel, the 85-year-old priest murdered on 26 July 2016, while celebrating a Mass in the Church of St-Etienne-du-Rouvray; this is the declaration of Bishop of Marseille and President of the French Bishops’ Conference George Pontier, made known this morning. “The Christian community and the whole French society recall him”. No-one wants to forget “a man close to everyone, his family, the other victims, his parish, and all the people in grief”. The man killed was “a man among men”, as his sister Roseline also said, a “priest becoming the symbol of life shared with others, for others, a life of daily faithfulness, rooted in the love of the One becoming one of us, for love: Christ”, wrote Msgr. Pontier. This life has become “model and encouragement for everyone”. In particular, the bishop of Marseille asked everyone “to pray for France”, on the occasion of the Assumption, next 15 August: “We ask the Lord, by intercession of Virgin Mary, to have many men and women living for others and with others in their ordinary lives. May the beloved brotherhood become reality, inspiring our personal choices and the choices of those bearing responsibilities at any levels.