Pope Francis said Fr. Hamel is a martyr. Is he now “Blessed Jacques Hamel”? Canonically, no.

ASK FATHER: Pope Francis said Fr. Hamel is a martyr. Is he now “Blessed Jacques Hamel”? [Canonically, no.]

[Hat-tip to LifeSiteNews]

Posted on 14 September 2016 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

I saw today that Pope Francis confirmed that Fr. Hamel is a “martyr.” Does this mean we can now refer to him as St. or Blessed or Venerable Fr. Hamel?

I strongly suspect that Fr. Jacques Hamel, recently killed in his church at Mass by an Islamic murderer in N. France, is a martyr. The murderer was pledged to ISIS.

However, just as the Church has procedures when promulgating laws and teaching definitively, so too the Church has procedures when determining if a slain Catholic was martyred. “Martyr” is also a technical term for someone who was killed precisely for hatred of Christ, the Faith, or some aspect of the Faith that is integral to it.

* * *

The Roman Pontiff has the highest authority in the Church after Christ Himself. He is Christ’s Vicar. He is the chief teacher and the lawgiver. However, the Pope must exercise his office in a prudent, responsible way lest confusion be sown. If he is sloppy about law and doctrine, people can become confused. “Did he teach X or not?” “Did he change the law about Y or not?” Confusion and doubts harm the whole fabric of the Church. Therefore, even Popes, for the sake of the good ordering of the life of the Church, have to follow the procedures which they (in the persons of their predecessors) have lain down.

Popes have established the Congregation for Saints to study the cases of those who have been killed, possibly as martyrs. They study all the evidence, carefully gathered and verified, in what is very like a court case. Once they make a determination that the person was martyred, they submit their decision to the Holy Father who can confirm it or not. If he confirms it, then he can either announce the decision in a public ceremony for the martyr or allow a delegate to make the announcement in the local church where the person was.

The point is that Pope Francis and his predecessors have an official procedure for these matters. If the Pope wants to change that procedure he’ll make it clear that that is what he is doing. Until then, Francis can call Fr. Hamel a martyr every day until the parenthesis of his pontificate closes, but he will not be officially recognized as a martyr until he makes that clear in the right way.

Meanwhile, it really does seem that Fr. Hamel is a martyr, doesn’t it. It wouldn’t surprise me at all were Francis to accelerate the process.

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One comment on “Pope Francis said Fr. Hamel is a martyr. Is he now “Blessed Jacques Hamel”? Canonically, no.

  1. angelqueen.org/2016/08/19/should-islamist-victim-father-hamel-be-on-the-fast-track-to-canonization/#comment-35855

    HowlinglyAbsurd on August 19, 2016 at 11:51 AM said:

    Don’t overthink the issue. Martyrdom is not the same as canonizing a saint who has not been murdered for the faith. There is no intelligence requirement or IQ or SAT score for martyrdom. This priest, baptized and ordained BEFORE Vatican II, was saying Mass, as a Catholic priest, when he was murdered for being a Christian. He’s a martyr. Converts to modernism blogging as if they were pope to create controversies can’t change the rules on this one. A stupid person can be a martyr, if that even applies to the situation. So can a flawed person, despite the protests of anti-Catholic Thomas More biographers. Chill out. There will be plenty more martyrs , given the stupidity of those making the policies.

    The priest’s opinions on Vatican II are irrelevant to whether he is a martyr and it is definitely NOT up to convert or modernist bloggers to decide the issue. He was already martyred. Ex opere operato.
    Reply ↓

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