Pope Francis mourns murdered French priest

Pope Francis laments the death of Fr. Olivier Maire, SMM, a French priest who was murdered on Sunday, allegedly at the hands of a man he was assisting.

By Devin Watkins

As he greeted the French-speaking faithful at the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis took the opportunity to offer his condolences for the death of a French priest.

“I learned of the murder of Father Olivier Maire with great sorrow,” he said. “I extend my condolences to the religious community of the Monfortians in Saint-laurent-sur-Sèvre, Vendée, to his family and to all Catholics in France.”

The Pope also assured those affected by his death of his spiritual nearness.

French Bishops and religious have also expressed their admiration for the generosity of the slain priest.

Fr. Olivier Maire was the provincial superior of the Company of Mary in France.

He and his religious community had been offering shelter to a 40-year-old Rwandan immigrant who is a suspect in the arson attack on the Cathedral of Nantes in June 2020.

On Monday, the man turned himself in to police, confessing to the murder of Fr. Maire. Police have detained him and are treating him as a suspect in the ongoing investigation.

An autopsy revealed that Fr. Maire died after “violent blows” to the head, according to the prosecutor of La-Roche-sur-Yon.

“The victim had six lesions, all to the head, inflicted by violent blows,” reads the autopsy report, which was unable to determine the weapon used to strike the priest.