Rouen diocese starts Fr Hamel beatification process after Pope gives approval
Dominique Lebrun, Archbishop of Rouen, announced that his diocese has officially begun an inquiry into the beatification of French priest Jacques Hamel, killed by Islamic extremists earlier this summer. The archbishop made the announcement after celebrating a special Mass on 2 Oct to re-open the church of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, where Fr. Hamel was killed.
Normally there is a five-year waiting period after the death of a person before a diocese can begin official investigations for the beatification. However, in Fr Hamel’s case Pope Francis has chosen to waive the traditional five-year waiting period Other exemptions to this rule made in recent years include St. Teresa of Calcutta and St. John Paul II.
In a statement released on 2 Oct by the French Bishops Conference, Archbishop Lebrun was informed by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints that Pope Francis “has dispensed with the 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 Fr. Hamel’s parish church was re-opened.
There has been much speculation about the possibility of Fr Hamel’s canonisation since Pope Francis had stated he was confident that Fr. Hamel was a martyr during a memorial Mass for the murdered priest at the Vatican on 14 Sep. Archbishop Lebrun, Fr. Hamel’s sister, and about 80 other pilgrims from Rouen attended the memorial service.
While he was at the Vatican, Archbishop Lebrun, who was Fr. Hamel’s bishop, asked the Pope to sign a photograph of the murdered priest. The archbishop wanted to take the photo to the three religious sisters who witnessed Fr. Hamel’s murder, but were unable to travel to Rome for his memorial Mass.
Archbishop Lebrun was very surprised by the Pope’s response. “This struck me,” says the archbishop as he relates: “After he greeted everyone, he was signing the photo and told me: you can put this photo in the church because he (Fr. Hamel) is blessed now; and if someone tells you that you have no right, you tell them that the Pope has given you permission.”