International Humanitarian, Bishop Joseph D’souza, Responds to Normandy Attack in Which a Beloved Catholic Priest was Brutally Executed by Terrorists
HYDERABAD, INDIA/NORMANDY, FRANCE (ANS - July 26, 2016) - Following today's terrorist attack by two Islamic State supporters in Normandy, France, who, during morning Mass, brutally executed, Father Jacques Hamel, a beloved Catholic priest in his mid-eighties, in his church, and also the series of attacks in Germany, where in the last eight days ten people have been killed and dozens more injured, the Most Rev. Dr. Joseph D'Souza -- president of the All India Christian Council and the Moderating Bishop of the Good Shepherd Church - has spoken out against the shocking violence encompassing parts of Western Europe.
"Today, the collective heart of the global, Christian church is shattered yet again at the news of another martyr. This decade will go down in history as one of the bloodiest in all of Christian history," he said. "This time the victim is an elderly Catholic priest. Incomprehensible. His throat was slit alone because of his commitment to Jesus Christ. In the face of this hate, we choose to celebrate the life of this dear priest, and we recommit ourselves to doing all we can to stop terrorism and to bring peace to our streets.
"While everyone understands that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, we must address with clarity of thought the truth that the pervasive radicalization of Muslims by some of their leaders is not a new phenomenon. In fact, it is now a growing phenomenon, bringing barbarism daily to the streets of Europe. Blindness to - or denial of - this phenomenon has allowed the rapid propagation of extremism within free democracies. Governments must treat these non-traditional threats with the same vigilance that they would treat someone bombing their shores.
"As an Indian, I live and serve in a country that has been fighting religious terrorism for my entire life, and what I know is that communities of faith and civil society must work together in order to cut this menace off at the root. What I also know is that there is almost always evidence of radicalization in the life of an individual."
D'Souza went on to say, "Government agencies and civil societies need to accept that this is a new reality of the modern world, and they need to find better ways to monitor what is going on within these radical groups. We have been too slow to action, and too slow to cooperation. It is the responsibility of Christian, Muslim, Hindu and all religious communities to be watchful of radicalization within their own communities if they want to preserve freedom and democracy for all society.
"Playing the role of a bystander when the process of radicalization is going on is not an option any more. No matter the religion, the west can no longer ignore the radicalization of religion that leads to violence."
The BBC is reporting that one of the men suspected of killing the priest at his church in northern France was being monitored by police and was wearing a surveillance tag at the time of the attack, officials say.
Prosecutor Francois Molins said Adel Kermiche, 19, was twice arrested last year trying to reach Syria.
Kermiche and a fellow attacker stormed the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen, during morning Mass.
They slit the throat of the elderly priest before being killed by police.
One of four people taken hostage - said to be an elderly parishioner - suffered severe knife wounds, Mr Molins said.
Mr Molins said the two attackers had been carrying a "fake explosive device covered in aluminum foil" along with hand-held weapons when they entered the Catholic church.
As they targeted Father Jacques Hamel, in his 80s, some of the congregation were able to escape and alert the police, who sent in a team specialized in dealing with hostage situations.
Three of the hostages were used as human shields to block the police from entering the church, Mr Molins said.
When they were eventually let go, the two attackers followed them out of the church shouting "Allahu Akbar" before being killed, Mr Molins said.
The BBC added that earlier, the so-called Islamic State (IS) claimed its "soldiers" carried out the attack.
As a journalist for more than 47 years, I am becoming increasingly concerned with the escalating violence that Islamic State is claiming to have carried out around the world on an almost daily basis, but to slit the throat of a defenseless priest in his own church, is beyond belief in its savagery. One has to wonder where this is all going to end up, and is certainly a rallying point for all Christians to pray about this terrible situation.
Note: The Most Rev. Dr. Joseph D'Souza is the Moderating Bishop of the Good Shepherd Church and Associated Ministries of India. He also serves as the President of the All India Christian Council. He is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades for his work as a human rights activist. He is also the founder and International President of the Dalit Freedom Network. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact: The KAIROS Company for Dalit Freedom Network | MediaInquiries@theKcompany.co | (434) 426-5310.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, Alfred and Anne Wooding, who worked with the Sudan Interior Mission, now known as SIM. He now lives in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for some 53 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and is also the author of some 45 books. He also has one weekly radio show and two TV shows all based in Southern California.
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