It had been closed since the day of the murder of the priest at the hands of two young jihadists. A ceremony of reparation led by the Archbishop of Rouen, followed by Mass. Pope Francis has agreed to the request of the faithful to accelerate the process of beatification. The ceremony was also attended by members of the local Muslim community.
Rouen (AsiaNews / Agencies) - For the first time since July 26, yesterday afternoon, the doors of the church of St Etienne-du-Rouvray, close to Rouen, where Fr. Jacques Hamel, was murdered by two young jihadists, reopened.
After Mass, Msgr. Dominic Lebrun, archbishop of Rouen, announced that Pope Francis has consented to the start an official investigation for the beatification of the priest. Usually the process of beatification can begin no earlier than five years after the candidate's death. Speaking to reporters, Msgr. Lebrun said: "It's brilliant. It is a gesture of consolation and commitment to the parishioners who voiced this desire to the Pope at an audience on August 14 last in Rome".
Before Mass, which was followed by a thousand people inside and outside the building, the archbishop led a ritual of reparation to "cleanse that which has been stained" by the violence. The prelate sprinkled the walls, the floor of the church, the place where Fr. Hamel was assassinated, the altar - which the two young killers have struck several times with a knife -, the paschal candle, a rosary from the statue of the Virgin.
Msgr. Lebrun also explained that the reparation ceremony is important to ask for forgiveness "for all the sins of the world, for their sins and for all others ... Christians cannot ask forgiveness for others if we do not ask forgiveness first for ourselves".
Sister Danielle, 72, one of three religious who escaped the murder’s violence, as well as Guy Coponet, 86, who was seriously wounded in the throat, read the texts of penance and forgiveness from the places where they were assaulted.
The ceremony was also attended by some Muslim authorities and faithful of the nearby mosque. Fr. Hamel’s grave, on the hills over Rouen, has already become a place of pilgrimage for Christians and Muslims. Many Islamic believers are close to the Christians in grief and condemnation of violence in the name of God.