Statement by Thomas Heine-Geldern, Executive President of the foundation

The pontifical foundation ACN is deeply shocked by the horrific attack which took place yesterday in the Basilica of Notre-Dame of the Assumption in Nice, France, causing the death of three people, including the beheading of a woman.

ACN denounces this outburst of violence, yet another terrorist act in France, and one more on the long list of crimes against Christians in the world.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, the injured, their families and the entire French Catholic community. At the same time, we call on all political and religious leaders in the world to firmly and explicitly condemn this radical Islamist attack.

As the French Bishops’ have written, these people have been attacked because they were in the church and because they “represented a symbol” to be destroyed.

Thomas Heine-Geldern, ACN Executive President
Thomas Heine-Geldern, ACN Executive President

We feel that these days Christians in Europe are caught between a radical and visceral attack on two fronts: one which wants to destroy their roots and to create a purely individualistic society without God. And another which has been radicalized and wants to impose a fundamentalist Islamist system by force, sowing terror and violence as we have seen in Nice, abusing the name of religion and God.

Although in the face of any type of radicalism we have to stand up and give a firm and decisive response, this cannot be a misunderstood “freedom of expression”, which leads to the offense and ridicule of the symbols of faith, of any confession of others. Freedom is our most important right, but nobody should in the name of it violate the natural rights of individuals and offend religious sentiment.

Benoit de Blanpré, ACN France’s director:

“Today in France, Christians are being murdered. Let us ask Father Jacques Hamel, also slain in his church on 26 July 2016, to intercede so that this barbarism ceases and that Christians can freely live their faith.”

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