Priest’s murder a barbaric act

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, July 27, 2016

An 85-year-old priest was murdered Tuesday morning while celebrating Mass at a countryside church in Normandy, France.

His throat was slit – some reports say he was beheaded. Four other worshippers, including at least one nun, were held hostage during the incident. One of the other Catholics in the church was gravely injured, according to news reports.

The two attackers were shot to death, but not before claiming allegiance to the Islamic State and recording themselves offering what one witness described as a sermon around the holy altar.

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Within hours, the Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for the attack.

Unfortunately news of the attack fell a distant second in the United States to national coverage of the Democratic National Convention and the politics of the day.

But it shouldn’t.

This was the first ISIS attack inside a Christian church in the West. Reports indicate the church was one of several identified in a 2015 list of potential terror targets. And, to quote national religion writer Terry Mattingly, “the hellish details matter in this story.”

This attack was the latest in a series of barbaric acts of terrorism, from a renegade lone wolf who plowed through a crowded pedestrian promenade in a truck to the coordinated series of attacks that killed 147 people last year. And, by taking place inside a sacred church, during the Holy Mass, it was an attack on not just individuals but the entire Christian faith.

As the Rev. Dominique Lebrun, archbishop of Rouen, said best:

“(We) cry out to God, with all men of good will. And I invite all non-believers to unite with this cry.”

Pray for our world.