Two men stormed a parish church in northern France on Tuesday morning and took several hostages, fatally stabbing an 85-year-old priest and critically injuring another person, before the attackers were shot dead by the police, officials said. President François Hollande said that the Islamic State was behind the attack, the latest in a series of assaults that have left Europe stunned, fearful and angry.
“We are facing a group, Daesh, that has declared war on us,” Mr. Hollande said, using an Arabic name for the Islamic State. “We must realize that the terrorists will not give up until we stop them. It is our will. The French must know that they are threatened, that we are not the only country — Germany is, as well as others — and that their strength lies in their unity.”
He spoke after traveling with Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve to St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray, the town in Normandy where the attack occurred, after meeting with the priest’s family and with the town’s mayor, Hubert Wulfranc. The Rev. Jacques Hamel, the church’s auxiliary priest, was stabbed to death around 9:45 a.m., either as or just after Mass was celebrated, according to officials in the town. Two nuns and three worshipers were held hostage. Two people were injured, one of them severely.
We are all under siege by barbarians bent only on our destruction. They can’t be loved enough or prayed for enough or hugged enough to be changed or to wish to change and that’s the horrifying unpleasant truth.
They may choose to kill us- but we, for our part, refuse to kill them. We are called upon by Christ to turn the other cheek. As clerics, there is no other course open to us. If we die, we die. But we will not stoop to their animalistic barbaric level and become what they are: ruthless godless pagan murderers.