In the wake, of the martyrdom of Fr. Hamel, an outpouring of prayer, love, and support, has come from many faithful Christians and non-Christians alike. They are outraged, rightly so, at his death, and the desecration of the Holy Altar in the church. Two ISIS Jihadists stormed the church, gave a ‘sermon’ in Arabic, and slit the throat of the priest on the Altar. His martyrdom is a true witness to the Gospel: a humble, quiet servant of our Lord brutally slaughtered during the Mass, filled with the Grace and Love of Christ, something his assassins lacked. His is the exemplar of the Christian way, both in his life and in his death.
Yet there are those on the left, who do not believe, who would tell us that to glorify this saint of God would be wrong. Those people, in the name of Political Correctness, would have us deny his Martyrdom, have us mourn his death while ignoring the very reason for his death: his faith and service to Christ. Paul Vallely a journalist on religion and ethics, recently published an article in the New York Times, denouncing the call for the Canonization of Fr. Hamel. His reasoning is simple: because Islamic Jihadists have perverted the meaning of martyrdom, and have used such a perversion to murder innocents, Christians should not call Fr. Hamel a martyr. He says this:
Reciprocal talk of martyrdom is unhelpful. The impulse to canonize Father Hamel, however sincere and well intentioned, feeds the idea of retaliation — our martyr for yours — that gives the jihadists the war of religions they seek.
What retaliation? Has the Pope, or the Archbishop of Rouen called for the destruction of the local Masjid? Have Catholic leaders demanded that we retaliate by slitting the throat of the local Imam, Mohammed Karabila during the Juma’a prayers? No. Rather we have seen time after time, that Christians have called for prayer, for mercy, for love, for the conversion to Christ those who hate and kill us. Fr. Hamel was killed for his faith, he was martyred, and according to Mr. Vallely, this is as violent and dangerous as the murder of this humble Priest. This is sophistry and political correctness at its worst: according to the secular Left, which is implicitly anti-theistic, we must keep the Truth silent, hide it in a dusty cellar never to be mentioned, for the fear of offending and angering Evil, which it has no problem placing upon a pedestal. Mr. Vallely then continues to give reason why we should do such a thing, invoking other Saints, comparing them to Fr. Hamel, with the conclusion he does not meet their legacy:
Some leading Catholics immediately compared Father Hamel to Thomas Becket or Oscar Romero, other priests killed in their places of worship. But there are important differences. Fathers Becket and Romero knew the dangers they were facing, taking a stand against the civil powers of their day. Their martyrdoms were ones of defiance.
By contrast, Father Hamel was going about his lifelong business in St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray as an everyday exemplar of quiet holiness, kindness and love for the people in his community.
What Mr. Vallely fails to understand, is that by simply being a quiet, holy and Christ-like servant of God, Fr. Hamel was a defiant man: he defied Modernity and its conditional love through his radical and unconditional love. He defied the pride and arrogance of the Secular age through his humility. He defied modern norms and taste by being a Christian man. His mere existence was an act of defiance against everything this modern world stands for. He was even killed in a similar manner as St. Becket: praying to God in his Church.
Mr. Vallely asks us to deny our faith and the Truth because he fears evil. He is a moral coward, a villain, who twists words such as compassion, understanding, and love to subvert real Love, and ultimately the truth: that Fr. Hamel is a martyr of the church and a Saint of God. For his lauding of St. Becket and Fr. Romero for their ‘martyrdom of defiance’, Mr. Vallely would have called the church not to canonize St. Becket as much then, as he does with Fr. Hamel now. He would have made the same arguments, that the political aspect of St. Becket’s death does not merit his Sainthood, that to Canonize the man would be a violent retaliation against the evil of King Henry II, and rather we should mourn his death as ‘senseless’. This is absurd and false. There was much sense in the deaths of these two Holy Men: a sense of hatred for God, and of his Holy Church. Mr. Vallely would obfuscate and deny this truth, because to accept it would mean that he must accept another truth he finds inconvenient and unfashionable: that the truth of God was revealed in Fr. Hamel’s martyrdom, and the church was vindicated by his blood.
Do not listen to Mr. Vallely’s lies. As Christians, we must welcome martyrdom with happy faces and joyous hymns. It is a crown which bestows great honour and Eternal Life. Embrace martyrdom and Truth, do not hide it in the shadows, for that is where evil resides, and where Mr. Vallely finds himself quite comfortable.