The Bishop of Truro, the Right Reverend Tim Thornton, has issued a pastoral letter to all licensed clergy and parishes within the Diocese of Truro, following the murder of Father Jacques Hamel in Rouen yesterday.

Bishop Tim wrote: “Yesterday morning I attended a Mass in the Abbaye de Landevennec in Brittany.  Many of you will know we have a close link with the Benedictine Abbey through St Guenole, who came from France to Cornwall bringing the Gospel message of God’s love for all. For many years church leaders have taken pilgrims there to pray and talk together about our differences and our similarities and to pray for unity.

“Every day they celebrate the Mass at 11.15am they will do so again today.  Of course their prayers like ours will go out to the community in Rouen grieving over the horrific attack that took place yesterday.

“We condemn violence wherever it happens and the wicked nature of this latest atrocity is shocking.  I am sure we will all be praying for our colleagues in the Roman Catholic Church this week.  I have sent a message of support to Bishop Mark (the Roman Catholic Bishop of Plymouth).”

“I believe our first task is to continue to witness to the message of the Gospel which is, as we know, good news for all.

“At a time when there is understandable anxiety and real fear on the part of many there is a tendency to stand aback from others and to build metaphorical walls between us.  This is not the Christian way. At this time we need to ensure we continue to extend hospitality to others and to work hard to ensure we listen to all members of our community.

“Our message is one that is difficult for many to understand and accept but it is one that claims God loves us all and wants us to keep working together and keep listening to each other and find ways to create community.  At a time such as this more than ever our prayer should be for peace and for justice right around God’s world and for the ability to keep listening to the Gospel message that the light will shine out of the darkness.

“A prayer for unity which has been used over the years by the Companions of St Guenole:

O God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we affirm our faith in you as the Holy One, and our conviction that you have called us to witness to the perfect unity of your love, to continue in the work of reconciliation, and to reveal you to the world.  Enable us to seek the peace and unity which is your will. Amen.”

Church leaders and their congregations are being advised to remain alert, not alarmed. There is no current intelligence to suggest any attack planning of this nature in this country.  However it makes sense for all church leaders to review their security plans and to encourage their flock to be vigilant. Any suspicious behaviour should be reported immediately through 999 or the anti-terrorist hotline 0800 789 321.

Bishop Tim’s letter can be found here.