Vatican Roundup

Fr Jacques Hamel ‘a martyr’ – Pope

Pope Francis has hailed Fr Jacques Hamel, as “a martyr” during a Mass for the murdered French priest. 

Referring to the wider suffering of Christian communities in various parts of the world, the Pope said: “Today there are Christians murdered, tortured, imprisoned, and slaughtered because they do not deny Jesus Christ. In this history, we come to our Père Jacques. He is part of this chain of martyrs…Fr Jacques Hamel had his throat slit on the Cross, precisely as he was celebrating the Sacrifice of the Cross of Christ. A good man, meek, fraternal, who always sought to make peace, was murdered as if he were a criminal. This is the satanic thread of the persecution.”

With his latter comment, the Pontiff was referring to Fr Hamel’s last words to his two attackers when he reportedly said “Be gone, Satan.”

Attending the September 14 Mass was Archbishop Dominque Lebrun, in whose Diocese of Rouen Fr Hamel died. The archbishop stated after the Mass that, in addition to the reference to Fr Hamel as a martyr, raising the prospect of canonisation, the Pope had stated that the late cleric should be “venerated”.

It was subsequently reported by Crux that Lebrun further “said the Pope had told him to put the image of Hamel in local churches, because he’s ‘blessed’, and that if anyone protests against it, the archbishop could say that he was doing so with the Pope’s permission”.


Pope’s Georgia-Azerbaijan itinerary announced

The Vatican has issued the programme for Pope Francis’ official visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan from September 30 to October 2.

The Pope will depart Rome for a 3pm arrival in Tbilisi, Georgia and will pay a courtesy visit to President Giorgi Margvelashvili before meeting with His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II, Catholicos and Patriarch of all Georgia. The first day concludes with a meeting with the Assyrian-Chaldean community in the Chaldean Catholic Church of St Shemon Bar Sabbae.

On October 1, the Pontiff will celebrate an open-air Mass at the Mikheil Meskhi stadium and afterwards will meet with various figures of the Catholic Church in Georgia.

On October 2, the Pope travels by air to Baku, Azerbaijan. He will celebrate Mass after his arrival at the Church of the Immaculate Conception at the Salesian centre in Baku. Afterwards he will visit President Ilham Aliyev ahead of a ceremony to honour the victims of Azerbaijan’s struggle for independence. Later in the day, he will meet privately with Sheikh Haji Allahshukur Hummat Pashazade, Grand Mufti of the Muslims of the Caucasus in the Heydar Aliyev Mosque. Following an interreligious ceremony to include representatives of the nation’s faith communities, the Pontiff departs Azerbaijan for arrival in Rome at 10pm.


Car ramming prompts alert

There was a security alert at the Vatican on September 16 when a car rammed through a police checkpoint near the Paul VI Hall. According to reports, the car smashed through wooden barriers, forcing police to jump to safety. When the vehicle stopped, a man now identified as a 64-year-old carpenter from the town of Ronciglione emerged and began to demand a meeting with Pope Francis. 

He was detained by officers and has since been admitted to a mental facility for tests. 

The Vatican continues to operate under a heightened state of alert due to the risk of terrorist attack by Islamic militants.