With regard to the recent murder of French Pastor Fr. Jacques Hamel, Pope Francis remarked that the mistreatment meted out to Christians, in its various forms, is a work of Satan.
"This cruelty that asks for apostasy, let's say the word, is satanic," the Pope stated in his address at a mass convened in the early hours of the 14<sup>th of September at Casa Santa Marta. The mass was held in memory of Fr. Jacques Hamel.
Catholic News Agency reported that among the attendees of the mass were the Archbishop of Rouen Dominique Lebrun, the sister of Fr. Hamel, and other pilgrims from Rouen. Several Cardinals, including French Cardinal Jean-Louis Pierre Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
The Pope went on to add, "Today in the church there are more Christian martyrs than in the first times. Today there are Christians who are assassinated, tortured, jailed, their throats are cut because they don't deny Jesus Christ."
85-year-old Fr. Hamel had been killed on the 26<sup>th of July, in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen. The victim had been conducting Mass, when the attackers, armed with knives, murdered Fr. Hamel.
Even in his last moments, the martyred pastor's words had been, "Be gone, Satan!" The assailants, who were ultimately shot dead by the police, had declared their allegiance to the Islamic State.
In his sermon, the Pope went on to add, "To the first Christians, apostasy was proposed – that is, say that our god is the true one, not yours. Make a sacrifice to our god, or our gods. And when they didn't do this, when they refused apostasy, they were killed.
"This is repeated today. How much we would like that all of the religions would say that killing in the name of God is satanic."
The honorable Pope also went on to regretfully state, "He was a good, meek man, (a man) of fraternity who always sought to make peace. He was assassinated as if he were a criminal."