Vatican City, 26 July (IANS/AKI) Pope Francis learned “with pain and horror” of an elderly priest’s killing at a church near the northern French town of Rouen by suspected jihadists and is praying for the victims of the “absurd violence”, the Vatican said Tuesday.
“The Pope has been informed and shares people’s pain and horror at this absurd violence and the strongest condemnation of every form of hatred and joins in prayers for those involved,” said Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi.
“We are especially shocked that this horrible violence, the barbaric killing of a priest and the involvement of worshippers, took place in a church, a sacred place for the love of God,” Lombardi added.
He said the Vatican was following news developments on the morning attack and siege at the church in the Normandy town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen.
The incident had caused the Holy See “immense pain and worry,” Lombardi added.
“We express solidarity with the Catholic Church in France, the archdiocese of Rouen, the local community involved and the French people,” he said.
In the assault on the church, two armed men allegedly slit 84-year-old priest Jacques Hamel’s throat and took hostage two nuns and two worshippers, critically injuring one before being ‘neutralised’ by police.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has expressed his horror at the “barbaric attack”.