Church condemns "brutal senseless and tragic" murder of priest

A senior Church of Scotland official has described the murder of a 84-year-old French priest in his own church as "brutal, senseless and tragic".

Rev Dr Martin Scott
Rev Dr Martin Scott secretary of the Council of Assembly.

The Rev Dr Martin Scott, Secretary to the Council of Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said the Kirk stood in solidarity with our "Catholic brothers and sisters" following the death of Father Jacques Hamel.

But he said the "shocking" attack in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen, would not deter the Church of Scotland from continuing with its work.

Dr Scott said: "The Church exists as a place of welcome and hospitality.

"We welcome both friend and stranger.

"Being open and inclusive is not just something we do, but who we are.

"Thus the brutal, senseless and tragic attack on Fr Hamel in France is an assault both on the individual himself, which we deeply mourn, and on the reason for existence of the Church.

"The Church of Scotland stands in solidarity with our Catholic sisters and brothers in this time of shock and deep sadness.

“Our churches remain open and welcoming to all who seek compassion and comfort.

"We need to be aware of the violence that is in our world and alert to the dangers.

"It is important for our ministers and Church workers to take all sensible precautions to ensure both their own safety and that of others who visit us from day to day.

"The Church of Scotland is in close contact with Police Scotland who have offered advice on good practice in relation to safety.

"Their advice is simple: Be Alert, but not Alarmed.

"We believe that is good advice.

"A copy of more detailed guidance on good practice in relation to safety has been reissued to all ministers by email today.“

The National Police Chief’s Council has issued the following statement today to assist faith groups.

It reads “There is no specific intelligence relating to attacks against the Christian community in the UK.

"However, as we have seen, Daesh and other terrorist groups have targeted Christian as well as Jewish and other faith groups in the West and beyond.

“Following recent events in France, we are reiterating our protective security advice to Christian places of worship and have circulated specific advice today.

We are also taking this opportunity to remind them to review their security arrangements as a precaution.

This is part of our ongoing work with faith organisations, as well as other sectors, to help ensure the safety and security of their staff, visitors and members.

“While the threat from terrorism remains unchanged at severe we urge the public to be vigilant. Be alert and not alarmed and report any suspicious activity via the anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789321.

Counter Terrorism Security advice has been provided by the UK Government in collaboration with Police Scotland for places of worship.

We recommend that you take a look at this document, which includes information on the following:

  • Managing the Risks
  • Security Planning
  • Physical Security
  • Good Housekeeping
  • Access Control
  • CCTV Guidance
  • Search Planning
  • Evacuation Planning
  • Small Deliveries by Courier and Mail Handling
  • Personnel Security
  • Information Security
  • Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs)
  • Chemical, Biological and Radiological (CBR) Attacks
  • Suicide Attacks
  • Firearm and Weapon Attacks
  • Communication
  • Hostile Reconnaissance
  • High Profile Events
  • Threat Levels