Via Catholic News Agency:
In response to the murder of Father Jacques Hamel by believed Islamic State sympathizers, the French bishops have designated Friday, July 29, as a day of fasting.
Msgr. Olivier Ribadeau Dumas, secretary general of the French Bishops Conference, discussed the decision July 26.
“What happened in France had happened in other countries before, and actually we see Christians laying down their lives in the interests of their faith,” he told journalists gathered in Krakow for World Youth Day.
“They die because they are objects of hate and this for a fact gives us an additional motivation to live the life of fraternity we are called to.”
Amid all of the justifiably emotional and political responses, it is often good to hear from spiritual leaders in times of crisis. Sure, politicians make awkward attempts at providing counsel and comfort, but most people have an inherent distrust of politicians and their motivations these days so those words often fall on deaf ears.
The attack occurred at the beginning of World Youth Day, an event the Church holds every few years which actually lasts several days. Msgr. Dumas believes the tragedy provides a special opportunity for those in attendance:
“We should see the horizon, the horizon of peace, of joy, brotherhood and prayer. We are rooted in our faith and in Christ and we believe that evil and violence will not have the upper hand.”
According to Msgr Dumas, the French contingent at World Youth Day received the news with sadness. About 300 youth are from the Diocese of Rouen, out of 3,000 French pilgrims total at the international gathering this week.
The French priest believes that World Youth Day needs to go forward “with even greater intensity.”
He stressed the importance of fraternity, hope in the future, and “the desire to create a world in which violence and hate don’t have any place.” He said the young pilgrims “want to live it here, and they say that to all French people.”
In some corner of my increasingly cynical mind I still like to think that a younger generation can affect a major course correction for humanity.