The Diocese of Rouen has opened the canonisation Cause of Fr Jacques Hamel, who was murdered while celebrating Mass last year.
Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen announced the news at a Chrism Mass, where all the diocesan priests were gathered, according to La Croix.
Fr Paul Vigouroux, vice-chancellor of the diocese, has been appointed postulator of the Cause.
Normally after a candidate for canonisation has died there is a five-year waiting period before any Cause can begin. Pope Francis granted a dispensation from this rule in the case of Fr Hamel.
Fr Hamel was killed last July in his parish church of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray by two men claiming allegiance to ISIS.
At a Mass in memory of Fr Hamel Pope Francis said he was a martyr.
Archbishop Lebrun said he had brought the photo and asked Pope Francis to sign it with a note for three religious women who had been with Fr Hamel at Mass that day. The sisters care for the sick in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray and were not able to join the pilgrimage to Rome.
Instead of signing the photo before Mass, the Pope “immediately told me to put it on the altar,” the archbishop told reporters later. “At the end of Mass, when he was greeting everyone, he signed it and said to me, ‘You can put this photo in the church because he is “blessed” now, and if anyone says you aren’t allowed, tell them the Pope gave you permission.’”
In his homily, the Pope reflected on the mystery of Christ “who made himself a martyr for the salvation of men and women.”
“The history of Christian martyrdom,” he said, has continued from the first centuries until today, when
“Christians are murdered, tortured, imprisoned and beheaded because they do not deny Jesus Christ.”
“In this history, we arrive to our Fr Jacques. He is a part of this chain of martyrs. The Christians, who suffer today — be it in prison, in death or by torture — for not denying Jesus Christ, show the very cruelty of this persecution. And this cruelty that asks for apostasy, we can say, is Satanic,” the Pope said.
Nonetheless, the Pope noted, Fr Hamel accepted his martyrdom and in his final moments, “did not lose the lucidity to accuse and clearly say the name of his murderer. He clearly said, ‘Be gone, Satan.’”
“This example of courage, as well as the martyrdom of his own life when he gave himself to help others, to help create brotherhood, helps us to go forward without fear,” the Pope said.