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At Father Hamel’s funeral, Rouen archbishop urges forgiveness

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Jacky Naegelen, Reuters

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ROUEN, France (CNS) — During the Aug. 2 funeral Mass for Father Jacques Hamel, killed a week earlier by men claiming allegiance to the Islamic State, Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen stressed the need for forgiveness.

“As brutal and unfair and horrible as (Father) Jacques’ death was, we have to look deep into our hearts to find the light,” he told the congregation of more than 1,500 at the Notre Dame Cathedral, while hundreds more watched the ceremony on a big screen outside in the rain.

In his homily, the archbishop said the beloved 85-year-old parish priest tried to push away his attackers with his feet, saying “go away, Satan” twice.

With those words, the archbishop said the priest expressed “faith in the goodness of humans that the devil put his claws in.”

Roselyne Hamel, the priest’s sister, urged the congregation to “learn to live together” and be “workers for peace.”

The archbishop thanked everyone, including “believers of other religious faiths, in particular the Jewish community and the Muslim community,” for attending the Mass.

He also urged the congregation to go to their churches on Aug. 15, feast of the Assumption of Mary, to pray for an end to violence.

Father Hamel’s burial after the Mass was private.

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