Pope Francis Green-Lights Opening Father Jacques Hamel’s Beatification Process

The French Diocese of Rouen has officially begun an inquiry into the beatification of the French priest, killed by Islamic extremists earlier this summer, after receiving a note from Pope Francis waiving the traditional five-year waiting period.

 Photograph of Father Jacques Hamel present at the Sept. 14 Mass Pope Francis celebrated in memory of the murdered French priest.
Photograph of Father Jacques Hamel present at the Sept. 14 Mass Pope Francis celebrated in memory of the murdered French priest. (photo: L’Osservatore Romano)

The French Diocese of Rouen has officially begun an inquiry into the beatification of French priest Jacques Hamel, killed by Islamic extremists earlier this summer, after receiving a note from Pope Francis waiving the traditional five-year waiting period.

Rouen’s Archbishop Dominique Lebrun made the announcement after celebrating a Mass Oct. 2 to re-open the church of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, where Father Hamel was killed by supporters of the Islamic State while saying Mass in July.

Typically there is a five-year waiting period required after the death of a person before a diocese can begin official investigations for beatification. Though waiving the rule isn’t normal, other modern examples of the exemption are St. Teresa of Calcutta and St. John Paul II.

According to an Oct. 2 statement released by the French Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Lebrun was informed by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints that Pope Francis “has dispensed of five-year waiting period usually required before starting the official investigation of the beatification.”

In order to thank the Pope for “this exceptional gesture,” Archbishop Lebrun decided to start the process on the day when Father Hamel’s parish was re-opened.

To mark the re-opening of Father Hamel’s parish, which has been closed since his bloody death July 16, the archbishop held a special Mass that began with a procession from the parish rectory to the front doors of the church, which were re-opened after the archbishop offered some brief comments.

The liturgy included the reading of Scripture, special prayers and Mass, all of which were focused on themes of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace. The specific rite used for the Mass was the one prayed in cases of desecration and had been adapted for the occasion.

Pope Francis previously expressed his confidence that Father Hamel was a martyr during a Sept. 14 Mass at the Vatican in memory of the priest. Archbishop Lebrun, Father Hamel’s sister and about 80 other pilgrims from Rouen were present.

Archbishop Lebrun, Father Hamel's bishop, asked the Pope if he would sign a photograph of the murdered priest for them to take to the three religious sisters who witnessed Father Hamel’s murder but were unable to travel to Rome for the Mass.

The archbishop was surprised when Pope Francis told him to put the photo on the altar before Mass. “This struck me,” he said.

Archbishop Lebrun related at a news conference: “After he greeted everyone, he was signing the photo and told me: ‘You can put this photo in the church because he (Father Hamel) is blessed now; and if someone tells you that you have no right, you tell them that the Pope has given you permission.’”

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito says of discerning one’s college choice, ‘There has to be something that tugs at you and makes you want to investigate it further. And then the personal encounter comes in the form of a visit or a chat with a student or alumnus who communicates with the same enthusiasm or energy about the place. And then that love of a place can be a seed which germinates in your own heart through prayer.’

Choose a College With a Discerning Mind and Heart

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito, assistant professor of theology at the University of Dallas (UD) and subprior (and former vocations director) of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas, drew from his experience as both a student and now monastic religious to help those discerning understand the parallels between religious and college discernment.