Murdered Priest on the Fast Track to ‘Sainthood’


Murdered Priest on the Fast Track to ‘Sainthood’

You can’t wait five years when you are fighting a war.

French priest Jacques Hamel, who was murdered by two Islamic State terrorists while giving mass in July, soon could be named a saint by the Catholic Church. Hamel will not wait the traditional five years before the canonization process begins.

Pope Francis gave a papal nod to French Archbishop Dominique Lebrun to start the “official investigation of the beatification.” Lebrun announced the news on October 2, the day the Church of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, where Hamel was murdered, was reopened.

Pope Francis said he wanted to make sure the complicated process of canonization is started quickly since the older “witnesses” may die or forget with time.

Fast-tracking the process is a rare occurrence. The decision places Hamel “on the same level of importance” as the previous exceptions of Pope John Paul ii and Mother Teresa, said Alexander Lucie-Smith of the Catholic Herald.

Soon after 85-year-old Jacques Hamel was murdered, Pope Francis framed the events in his own peace-seeking narrative. The world is at war, he said, but he made clear that he wasn’t speaking about a “religious war.” “Religions, all religions, seek peace,” he said. “It’s others who want war.”

Some Catholics see the fast-tracking of Hamel’s sainthood as contradicting Francis’s all-religions-seek-peace narrative. Lucie-Smith senses the change:

What strikes me as unusual about the pope’s intervention is that this act does not seem to accord with the other things that the pope has said about Islamist violence. If the murderers of … Hamel killed him in odium fidei [in hatred of the faith], that means this was a religiously motivated murder.

Perhaps the facts fit a different narrative, one where Europe is rediscovering its Christian identity. Even the Germans are discussing what should be their “dominant culture.” Reinhard Marx, Germany’s leading cardinal, reminded the leading German parties that the “C” in their party names (cdu and csu) refer to Jesus Christ.

Perhaps Hamel is on the fast track to canonization because the Vatican has no time to wait five years. Throat-slitting Islamists don’t wait. The time to designate priest Jacques Hamel a “martyr” and “saint” is not in five years; it’s right now.