In honour of Jacques Hamel, the French priest murdered by Islamist sympathisers two weeks ago, a Catholic charity is launching a campaign to support the training of 1,000 new priests around the world.
The Italian wing of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) announced the move, aimed at helping to find seminarian studies for future priests in 21 Dioceses from a range of countries.
"Support for the formation of new priests is a concrete response to fundamentalism, because especially in countries where the extremist threat is the greatest, the ministers of God must possess the appropriate tools to promote dialogue and contribute to a peaceful coexistence between all the religious groups, putting an end to the conflicts," Alessandro Monteduro, director ACN in Italy told the Catholic News Agency.
The campaign is the charity's response to Hamel's murder on 26 July, when he was ambushed by two hostage takers bearing guns and knives while celebrating Mass and had his throat slit at the altar of his church, in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy. Islamic state claimed responsibility for the attack, which ended with he two gunmen being shot dead by police.
Aid to the Church in Need said on its Italian website that it will offer support to seminarians belonging to Dioceses in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia. Monteduro added that "we chose the seminaries that had the greatest need for aid, to allow them to accommodate more students and form what we consider to be the new 'soldiers of the faith.'"
Monteduro went on to say that "forming well-prepared priests in a powerful weapon against fundamentalism" as well as "the Christian presence being visible, especially in those societies under attack by the extremists."