Murdered Priest ‘Was Everyone’s Brother’

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Thousands of mourners are attending the funeral
of a Catholic priest who was murdered in a brutal
terrorist attack in his own church.

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Father Jacques Hamel’s funeral is taking place
amid tight security at Rouen Cathedral, where
Muslims and Christians came together to mourn
his death at a service on Sunday.
Police were closely checking bags and backpacks
of many of the 2,000 people packing out the 11th-
century Gothic cathedral, situated a few miles from
the scene of the murder.
Hundreds more gathered outside to watch on a
giant screen in the rain as speakers including Fr
Hamel’s sister and Archbishop Dominique Lebrun
paid tribute to the 85-year-old priest.

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Speaking with a relative supporting her, the
priest’s sister Roselyne Hamel described him as
“everyone’s brother” and issued an appeal for
people of different faiths to “learn to live together”.
She said Fr Hamel had refused to become an
officer in the French military in Algeria because “he
would have had to give orders to his men to kill
other men, so he categorically refused”.
She said that after emerging as the sole survivor in
a desert gun battle he would often ask himself
“why me?”.

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She added: “Today, Jacques, our brother, your
brother, you have your answer; our God of love
and misery chose you to be at the service of
others.”
In an emotional address, Fr Hamel’s niece Jessica
Deleporte said: “Like you, I choose respect, like
you, I choose love, like you, I choose to fight.”

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After the service – attended by Interior Minister
Bernard Cazeneuve – Fr Hamel was due to be
buried in a private, family ceremony at an
undisclosed location.
The priest was forced to kneel by killers Adel
Kermiche and Abdelmalik Petitjean before they slit
his throat in his church in Saint-Etienne-du-
Rouvray last Tuesday.
Kermiche and Petitjean, who had both pledged
allegiance to Islamic State, stormed the church and
attacked Fr Hamel at the altar
in front of worshippers and nuns they took
hostage.

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The 19-year-old jihadis were shot dead on the
church steps by police as they emerged from the
building immediately after the attack shouting
“Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest”).
One nun, named as Sister Danielle, who managed
to escape and revealed the horror of the tragedy,
described her dead colleague as “an extraordinary
priest” and “a wonderful, kind man”.
The priest’s murder has stirred strong emotions
across France, where the security forces are under
scrutiny after it emerged both killers were known
to police.

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Kermiche was under house arrest after having
twice tried to travel to Syria and was wearing an
electronic tag which was turned off for a few hours
every morning, allowing him to carry out the
killing.
The attack occurred less than two weeks after the
Bastille Day massacre in Nice which left 84 people
dead after Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel
drove a truck into a crowd celebrating the national
holiday on 14 July.

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