“By killing Fr. Hamel at the foot of the altar, the two terrorists sought to sow a thirst for revenge and retaliation among Catholics in France. But they failed. Hence my first words are of gratitude to the Church of France, to Mgr. Lebrun here present, to the Catholics of France, to the sisters of St Vincent De Paul, and in particular the courageous sisters who were present that day and the parishioners. I thank all of them for finding in their faith and prayer the strength to forgive”. The President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, said this at the beginning of his address this morning at the unveiling ceremony of a “Republican stone for peace and fraternity” which was erected in the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in memory of Father Jacques Hamel, the priest killed one year ago by two young terrorists while celebrating Mass. President Macron went on to extend his thanks to all the inhabitants of the small town in Normandy for “setting the same example for the whole of France, for rejecting the thirst for revenge and retaliation, and for choosing together, from the very beginning, to walk the path of peace”. At this “troubled” time in the history of France, as our fellow citizens are greatly tested by terrorism and also by “persecution”, we need “peacemakers”. And “the example of peace-building you have set for France – President Macron added – deserves all our gratitude. These murderers sought to sow terror in the French people who had already been hard hit by the terrorist attack in Nice on 14 July, but thanks to you, they failed”. Instead, they reminded all French citizens that the Republic is not the “kingdom of relativism” and that “at the heart of our laws and rules, there is something non-negotiable forged by our history, something we do not compromise on, something sacred: this something is what makes us human, it is love, hope, the gift of self, our care for the other. Fr. Hamel has embodied all of this”. “One year ago, – Macron concluded – you set this example for the whole of France, and without downplaying the horror, I want to tell you, here and now, that Fr. Hamel’s martyrdom was not in vain. His viaticum will be the power of your message and of your dignity”, the fact that he made “each of you even more faithful to what we truly are, more faithful to what they sought to destroy”.