Pope Francis said on Wednesday that the French priest knifed to death at his altar by Islamist militants in July was a martyr, and indicated that Father Jacques Hamel was already on the road to sainthood.
Francis spoke at a special Mass for pilgrims from the Rouen area of France where two attackers stormed the church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, forced the 85-year-old Hamel to his knees and slit his throat while they chanted in Arabic.
In his Italian-language sermon, Francis also called on all religions to declare that “killing in the name of God is Satanic”.
Francis used the words martyr or martyrdom 10 times during his homily in the chapel of the guest house where he lives in the Vatican.
“He (Hamel) accepted his martyrdom there on the altar,” the pope said.
“He gave his life for us so as not to deny Jesus. He is a martyr and martyrs are beatified.”
Beatification is one of the first