Pope Francis on Wednesday said Jacques Hamel, the French priest who was knifed to death by militants in July was a martyr, and already on the road to sainthood.
Francis spoke at a special Mass for pilgrims from the Rouen area of France, where two attackers stormed the church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, forced Hamel 85, to his knees and slit his throat while they chanted in Arabic.
In his Italian-language sermon, Francis also called on all religions to declare that “killing in the name of God is Satanic”.
Francis used the words martyr or martyrdom 10 times during his homily in the chapel of the guest house where he lives in the Vatican.
“He (Hamel) accepted his martyrdom there on the altar,” the pope said.
“He gave his life for us so as not to deny Jesus. He is a martyr and martyrs are beatified.”
Beatification is one of the first steps in the complex process that leads to sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church.