French priest the Rev. Jacques Hamel was the victim of a terrorist attack during a Mass he was celebrating on July 26, 2016. Now, his killers are facing the justice system.
Hamel was stabbed in his church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, France. Four men associated with the attack have now been convicted following a trail. During the attack, Hamel was stabbed by two men, who were later killed by the police. The four men who have been declared guilty were associated with the attack.
Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of France’s Rouen said he believes that justice has been served. National Catholic Register reports:
“Justice is done,” Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen said after the verdict on March 9. “[The court] has discerned the good from the bad as much as possible, it has judged and for the good of society, for the good of the men present in the dock.”
The trial against four people on charges of terrorist conspiracy in Father Hamel’s murder began on Feb. 14.
The 85-year-old priest was killed in a terrorist attack while he offered Mass in the church of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, in the northern French archdiocese of Rouen, on July 26, 2016.
Four people were held hostage during the attack, which also left one elderly Massgoer seriously injured.
The two 19-year-old men who stabbed Father Hamel and injured a second man were killed by police as they left the church. The four men convicted on March 9 were accused of criminal association with the attackers.
Three of the men convicted received between eight and 13 years in prison. A life sentence was given to a fourth man, a known Islamic State recruiter who was tried in absentia.
The lawyer who represented the man who was injured during the attack said that a sensation of “spirituality” pervaded the courtroom while the trial was going on. A spirit of forgiveness could also be felt during the trial.
A lawyer for the man injured in the 2016 assault said that there was a feeling of “spirituality” in the courtroom during the three-week trial.
He said that relatives of victims held hands with defendants and the injured man expressed his forgiveness, the Associated Press reported.
Three of the defendants also reportedly asked for forgiveness during the trial.
Archbishop Lebrun said on Wednesday that “silence will follow the verdict.”
“I will have to digest what I have heard, to meditate on it,” he said. “Evil is terrifying. To pervert the relationship to God to the point of killing in his name has shaken me and challenged me deeply. Am I certain that I and my community are faithful to our God of love, justice, and peace? This question is my mission.”
The archbishop thanked Father Hamel’s family and the other victims of the attack for having chosen “life and the opposite of hatred, that is to say, forgiveness or the hope of forgiveness.”
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