“Stand with you in prayers and friendship”

France attack is a "desperate attempt" to cast a struggle for political power into a conflict between religions, says the LWF. Photo: LWF/M. Renaux
France attack is a "desperate attempt" to cast a struggle for political power into a conflict between religions, says the LWF. Photo: LWF/M. Renaux

LWF expresses condolences over killing in St Etienne-du-Rouvray

(LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has expressed condolences to and solidarity with the Catholic church after the brutal killing of Rev. Jacques Hamel at l’Église St.-Étienne in St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray in France.

“An old man, a priest, in the church and celebrating mass – we are shocked by the news,” LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge writes in a letter to Kurt Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. “The degree of disrespect and cynicism shown in this brutal act is appalling and disgusting. We stand with you in prayers and in friendship as you process this painful situation.”

Rev. Hamel, 85, was attacked and killed by two young men with knives while reading mass on Tuesday morning in the church of St. Etienne- du-Rouvray in Normandy. Other parishioners were taken hostage, with one severely wounded. The attackers were killed by police. Islamic State militia claimed responsibility.

“The attack represents a desperate attempt to cast a struggle for political power into a conflict between religions,” Junge writes in his condolences. “We Lutherans and Catholics know all too well about political struggles for hegemony and supremacy that align religious differences to their cause. We are also painfully aware of the negative effects on the witness of the church, and especially on the human beings who are dragged into these conflicts.”

“We pray for God’s Spirit vigorously nurturing God’s calling for peace and justice in our world and in all of our hearts, even in the aftermath of suffering violence,” the letter concludes.

LWF and the Catholic Church will meet for the Joint Commemoration of the Reformation anniversary in Lund and Malmö, Sweden, on 31 October. In the joint publication, From Conflict to Communion, Catholics and Lutherans reflect on 50 years of Lutheran-Catholic dialogue and on a joint witness of the gospel after religious division.