The Vatican on Tuesday condemned the “barbarous killing” of a priest in a French church, saying Pope Francis was horrified by the news.
“We are particularly shocked because this horrible violence took place in a church, in which God’s love is announced,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said. He said the pope was feeling “the pain and horror of this absurd violence” and “condemned in the most radical way any form of hate”.
The Archbishop of Rouen identified the slain priest as Father Jacques Hamel.
Two attackers killed a priest with a blade and seriously wounded another hostage in a church in northern France on Tuesday before being shot dead by French police. The attack took place during morning mass at the Saint-Etienne parish church, south of Rouen in Normandy. Five people were initially taken hostage.
French President Francois Hollande said two hostage takers who killed a priest in a church in Normandy, northern France, were terrorists who had pledged allegiance to Islamic State.
“Daesh has declared war on us, we must fight this war by all means, while respecting the rule of law, what makes us a democracy,” he told reporters at the scene in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, south of Rouen, using an Arab acronym for the Islamist extremist group
The attack is the latest in a string of deadly assaults in Europe, including the mass killing in Nice on Bastille Day and four incidents in Germany. Many of the attacks have had links to Islamist militants.