ROME — Pope Frances urged religious leaders on Wednesday to tell their followers that any killing carried out in the name of God is "satanic."
The pontiff made the remarks during a Mass honoring Jacques Hamel, an 85-year-old priest murdered by ISIS-supporting teenagers who stormed his church in northern France in July.
"Killing in the name of God is satanic," the pope told the ceremony in the Vatican's Domus Santa Marthae chapel. "I would like it if all religions said this, 'To kill in the name of God is satanic.'"
Dozens pilgrims from France attended the Mass.
Adel Kermiche and Abdel-Malik Nabil Petitjean, both 19, stormed the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray on July 26 and took six people hostage: Hamel, three nuns and an elderly couple.
They forced the priest to his knees and slit his throat while performing a "sort of sermon around the altar in Arabic," one of the nuns told France's BFMTV at the time.
Police shot both attackers dead as they ran out of the church shouting "Allahu Akbar," according to French officials.
"In the middle of the difficult moment that he was facing, in the middle of this tragedy that he saw coming, a gentle man, a good man, a man of brotherly love, did not lose the lucidity to accuse and say clearly the name of the assassin," the pope said on Wednesday, describing the priest's final moments. "He said very clearly, 'Go away Satan.'"
The pope also indicated that the priest could be on his way to beatification, the first step to sainthood.
"He accepted his martyrdom there on the altar of Christ," he added. "He gave his life for us so as not to deny Jesus. He is a martyr and martyrs are beatified."