Sheffield’s Catholic church has urged people of all faiths to stand united after ISIS-linked killers murdered a French priest in his own church.
Vicar General for the Diocese of Hallam, Reverend Desmond Sexton, has spoken out after attackers linked to terrorist group Islamic State carried out the murder on Monday.
The two attackers slit the throat of 86-year-old Father Jacques Hamel during morning Mass after storming his church in Rouen, northern France.
The attackers, who also held four other people hostage, were reportedly gunned-down by police at the scene.
In the wake of the despicable attack, Reverend Saxton condemned the attackers as ‘blinded by a regime of terror and hatred’ and insisted they do not represent Islam.
He said: “This was a terrible killing in a place devoted to peaceful worship and openness to all people. This was a man of peace who worked to benefit everybody.
“It’s important to realise that the individuals who carried out this despicable act were not doing it on behalf of Islam.
“These attackers were clearly misguided individuals, blinded by a regime of terror and hatred.
“It’s important that people keep this in mind and do not respond in ways which will increase the division of hatred.”
Reverend Sexton said the best response to a terrorist threat is to carry on as normal.
He said: “It’s difficult to improve security at churches – building which are open to everybody.
“All people can do is carry on as normal. Terrorists want to alarm us and change our behaviour. People of all faiths – and no faith – need to stand united against attacks like this.”