Responding to terrorism — The Roman Catholic Church’s only weapons are fraternity and prayer

Hungarian society is a largely secular one, even though references to the nation’s Christian heritage and “character” feature prominently in the discourse of the current government and in its press. Yet the Orbán government’s approach to refugees, the migration crisis and to those who are most vulnerable within society stands in stark contrast to the “brand” of Christianity espoused by Pope Francis and, indeed, by Jesus himself. The recent horrific terrorist attacks and violence in Europe has, unfortunately, brought out the worst from so many in Hungary. The well of Hungarian public discourse is badly poisoned. Within this context, I felt it important to translate a French-language article from Guillaume Goubert, appearing in France’s La Croix daily, and share this English translation with the readers of HFP. As most of you will have heard: Fr. Jacques Hamel, an 86 year old priest in  Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, was brutally murdered by a 19 year old terrorist affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS). Fr. Hamel was forced to kneel down in front of five nuns and parishioner, as his throat was slit. La Croix offered this response the next morning… (C. Adam)

Fr. Hamel

Fr. Hamel

A church on a summer morning…it is almost empty. Just a few people came to Mass to lift up the world in their prayers. We imagine them as being elderly, just like the presiding priest. Born in 1930, ordained in 1958, Father Jacques Hamel dedicated his life to proclaim hope, without ever seeking honour. And yet again, he humbly offers his service, like so many other priests in so-called “active retirement.”

Thereafter, there is this sudden eruption of barbarism. We simply refuse to describe it. The only words that come to our mouths are those uttered by the Archbishop of Rouen during the World Youth Day celebrations in Krakow: “I cry out to God.” They come from Psalm 129: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my prayer! “

It is a cry of pain, a cry of distress before the mystery of evil. A cry of anger faced with the fanatical violence that has scarred our earth and our world. All these unarmed people, all these lives cut short, men, women, children, without distinction of nationality or religion. From Baghdad to Orlando from Nice to Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray…

No cause can justify such an abomination. The slightest complacency towards such acts, even one that takes the form of a cowardly silence, must be condemned. But our cry to God is a call for help to resist the temptation of revenge. “The Catholic Church has no weapons, other than prayer and fraternity among all humankind,” said Archbishop Dominique Lebrun again before leaving Poland to return to his diocese. Fraternity is a difficult word  to hear after this chain of tragedies. He reminds us that to respond to hatred with hatred would be the triumph of evil.

Guillaume Goubert

(Translated by Christopher Adam)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *