Migrant Met with Pope before Stabbing Priest to Death and Burning Down Cathedral
News comes amid pope's 'pro-immigration' stance
A migrant, who recently confessed to stabbing a 60-year-old priest after he set fire to the Nantes Cathedral, met with Pope Francis in 2016, according to reports.
French reporter Arnaud Bédat shared the picture of the Pope meeting Abayisenga on social media following his murder confession.
Pope Francis has continually pushed his stance on pro-immigration, lecturing his followers on the migrants' hardships and called for a shift in thinking.
The pope said in an address in Saint Peter’s Square last week:
“Let us open our heart to refugees; let us make their sorrows and their joys our own; let us learn courageous resilience from them!”
“And in this way, all together, we will make a more human community grow, one big family,” the pontiff added.
Emmanuel Abayisenga arrived illegally in the French city of Nantes in 2012 after leaving his native Rwanda, according to an investigation from La Croix.
Many people believed Abayisenga suffered from mental illness, the report claimed.
Emmanuel Abayisenga, who has reportedly confessed to the killing of Fr Olivier Marie, pictured here with Pope Francis in 2016. Abayisenga grew up in Rwanda during the country’s genocide. https://t.co/fMIvcHNtp2— Christopher Lamb (@ctrlamb) August 9, 2021
According to those interviewed, Abayisenga's mental health has declined further after his detention for setting fire at Nantes Cathedral in July last year.
Brother Jean-Luc recalled on the day of the fire:
“I told [Abayisenga] the cathedral had burned down."
"That day, he didn’t have his usual gaze; he was like in another world. I didn’t want to disturb him any further.”
Even though he burned down the cathedral, Father Olivier Maire took in Abayisenga and provided him with shelter and food.
Rwandan later confessed to stabbing the priest to death on Monday.
President Emmanuel Macron wrote of the murdered priest:
“He bore the generosity and love of the other even in the features of his face. On behalf of the Nation, I pay tribute to Father Olivier Maire. Warm thoughts for Montfortians and all Catholics in France. Protecting those who believe is a priority.”
The President of the Conference of the Bishops of France, Mgr Éric de Moulins, said:
“He will have lived following Christ to the end, in the unconditional welcome of all. While waiting for the more complete elements that the investigation will bring, I pray for his family, his religious brothers.
"I pray for all the population traumatized by this tragedy, for their murderer too, in great psychological drift at the very least.”
The migrant was believed to have been angry about having his visa expiring, which prompted him to murder the priest.
At the time, prosecutors warned it would be “premature and hasty” to lay blame on the migrant for the blaze.
Cathedral clerk, Jean-Charles Nowak, defended the unnamed migrant, saying he “adores” the building.
“I don’t believe for a second that he could have set the cathedral on fire,” Nowak said.