France’s interior minister reported that a priest was murdered in a small town in western France on Monday, August 9th.
Gérald Darmanin wrote on Twitter: “All my support to the Catholics of our country after the dramatic assassination of a priest in Vendée. I am going to the scene,” he said.
According to reports, the suspect is a Rwandan immigrant who reportedly turned himself in to a French police station and confessed to murdering the Catholic priest who gave him shelter while he awaited possible trial over the fire that ravaged Nantes Cathedral in July 2020.
French media said that Fr. Olivier Maire, French provincial superior of the Montfort Missionaries (the Company of Mary) had welcomed the 40-year-old suspect, identified by media as Emmanuel Abayisenga, into the community in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre following the Nantes fire.
On its Twitter account, the Diocese of Luçon wrote that Bishop François Jacolin of Luçon and the diocese “express their deep sorrow and sadness” following the news of the murder.
“Bishop Jacolin and the Diocese of Luçon share the immense sorrow of his family and the entire Montfortian family,” it said.
Marine Le Pen immediately took to Twitter to criticize the authorities for failing to deport the suspect, saying “In France, one can be an illegal immigrant, set fire to the cathedral in Nantes, never be deported, and then reoffend by murdering a priest. What’s happening in our country is unprecedented: the total failure of the state.”
Senator Bruno Retailleau, who represents the Vendée department, said he was “deeply shocked by the appalling murder of a priest who had welcomed his murderer to his home. This was the undocumented person who had set fire to Nantes cathedral. But what was this individual still doing in France?”