“When the time comes, I would like to be able to have that stroke of lucidity which would permit me to ask forgiveness of God and of my brothers in humanity, forgiving wholeheartedly, at the same time, whoever my killer might be. May we meet each other again, happy thieves, in paradise, should it please God.”
French Father Christian de Chergé
January 27 2018 — On Friday January 26 2018, Pope Francis received in audience Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Pope Francis allowed the Congregation to enact the decrees of beatification of the 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven monks of Tibhirine. The circumstances of their kidnapping and death remain controversial. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today
On the night of 26–27 March 1996, seven monks from the Atlas Abbey of Tibhirine, near Médéa, in Algeria, belonging to the Roman Catholic Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (known as Trappists) were kidnapped during the Algerian Civil War.
They were held for two months, and found dead in late May 1996. The Armed Islamic Group (Groupe Islamique Armé, GIA) claimed responsibility.
However, in July 2009, the retired French general François Buchwalter — who was military attaché in Algeria at the time — testified to a judge that the monks had been accidentally killed by an Algerian government helicopter during an attack on a guerrilla position, then beheaded after their death to make it appear as though the GIA had killed them.
The day after Buchwalter’s statement, former GIA leader Abdelhak Layada — who was in prison when the monks were killed — responded by reiterating that the GIA had beheaded the monks after a breakdown of negotiations with the French secret service. [Wikipedia]
UPDATE (December 8 2018) — On Saturday, the Catholic Church beatified the seven French monks. The ceremony, the first of its kind in a Muslim nation, was held in Oran, 400 kilometres west of the Algerian capital.
“Archbishop of Algiers, Paul Desfarges, said the ceremony in the northwestern port city of Oran was “a way to highlight” the dedication of the 19 men and women who remained in the country during the violence.
“They did not hesitate to risk their lives because the most important thing for them was their relationship with others, rather than protecting themselves,” he told AFP.
Father Thomas Georgeon, who presented the case in Rome for the beatification, said it was the first time the Church would carry out such a ceremony in a Muslim country.
He insisted the move was not intended to “glorify the death of Christians at the hands of Muslims, but to mark their deaths alongside those of so many Algerian martyrs”.
The Algerian authorities in April officially gave the Vatican approval for the beatification to take place in the North African country.
The event was presided over by Pope Francis’s envoy Giovanni Angelo Becciu.
Archbishop Desfarges said he hoped the beatification would serve to reinforce the ties between the Catholic Church and the people of Algeria – just like the work of those being celebrated.
“We did not want to hold the beatification just among Christians as these brothers and sisters died alongside dozens and dozens of thousands of Algerians,” he said.
“We want to continue to be the church of friendship, brotherhood and coexistence.” (FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Assassination of the monks of Tibhirine
Pope confirms decrees for causes of Saints — Vatican News
Vatican News — Pope Recognizes Martyrdom of the Seven Trappist Monks Murdered in Tibhirine, Algeria (1996)
Vatican News — Pope Recognizes Martyrdom of the Seven Trappist Monks Murdered in Tibhirine, Algeria (1996) [UPDATE]
One Year Ago — Pope Recognizes Martyrdom of the Seven Trappist Monks Murdered in Tibhirine, Algeria (1996)