Fr. Hamel knew. He understood.
ROUEN, France — The archbishop of Rouen, leading Tuesday’s solemn funeral Mass for an elderly priest slain a week ago by two extremists, said the Rev. Jacques Hamel tried to push away his attackers with his feet, saying “go away, Satan,” remarks that underscored the horror of the murder at the altar that touched a chord throughout France.
Hundreds of priests and bishops filled the sumptuous Rouen cathedral along with many hundreds more people, including Muslims who have joined in the grieving since the murder of the 85-year-old priest, slashed by his attackers while celebrating morning Mass.
Hamel’s grisly murder sent shockwaves that went beyond his humble work as a small-town parish priest, touching other faiths and all of France. It came less than two weeks after 84 people were killed in an attack by a hurtling truck in Nice on a crowd of Bastille Day revelers.