Priest’s guest murders his host


A Rwandan immigrant on bail for the arson of the Nantes cathedral has turned himself in for killing the French provincial of the Montfort Missionaries.

Emmanuel Abayisenga, who has confessed to Father Olivier Maire’s murder, had been released on bail earlier this year for the 2020 arson at Sts Peter and Paul Cathedral in Nantes, causing immense damage to priceless artefacts.

Maire (pictured) had offered him somewhere to live.

Police sources say “At this stage of the investigation there seems to be no terrorist motive whatsoever.”

Among the many who have spoken out over Maire’s death were Prime Minister Jean Castex, who expressed his “deep dismay” over the tragedy and Macron who “expressed all his sympathy” to the local religious community of Montfortians.

Pope Francis has also reached out to the French community, telling French-speaking visitors at his general audience this week that it was “with great sorrow” he learned of last Friday’s murder.

“I extend my condolences to the religious community of the Monfortians in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre in Vendée, to his family and to all Catholics in France,” Francis said, assuring everyone of his closeness.

The Montfort Missionaries’ superior general says Maire was a “religious, a priest and a missionary of great value, a specialist in Montfort spirituality who accompanied his entire community in coming to a profound understanding of the message of their founder, Louise-Marie Gignion de Montfort.”

The president of the French bishops’ conference took to social media after the tragedy, tweeting: “[Maire] will have lived following Christ until the very end, in the unconditional acceptance of all.

“While waiting for more complete elements that the investigation will bring, I pray for his family and his religious brothers. I pray for all the people traumatized by this tragedy, for his assassin too, who is at least psychologically adrift, and I assure (Lucon) Bishop (Francois) Jacolin of my fraternal support.

“May God grant us the grace to serve him always and in all.”

While his community is mourning Maire, his murder has given France’s far-right National Rally Party fuel to use against President Emmanuel Macron over his immigration policy, eight months out from a presidential election.

“So in France, you can be an illegal immigrant, torch Nantes cathedral, never be expelled and re-offend by murdering a priest.

“What’s happening in our country is unprecedented: the total failure of the state,” tweeted National Rally Party president Marine Le Pen.

In response, Father Cédric Burgun, vice dean of the canon law faculty at the Catholic University of Paris, told Le Pen the French respect the law.

“This man was under police control and it was the priest himself who took the risk of welcoming him!

“Because charity and mercy take risks that some politicians have forgotten,” Burgun tweeted.


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