Following the tragic murder of Father Jacques Hamel in Rouen yesterday, the Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Mike Hill, and the Bishop of Swindon, the Rt Revd Lee Rayfield, have offered their prayers to the people of France.
Bishop Mike said: With shock and revulsion we read in our newspapers of the horrific and cowardly attack in Normandy perpetrated on an 87-year-old priest who was simply going about his ministry. This is yet another tragic example to add to the litany of disgraceful and horrendous violence inspired by IS across Europe.
Our prayers are with all who have been injured and/or bereaved in the recent spate of abhorrent violence in mainland Europe.
In the Diocese of Bristol, we are aware that these times require both calm and extra vigilance. We shall take further advice to keep people in our care safe.
Bishop Lee said: The church, like wider society should not over-react to these events because it plays into the agenda of those who are looking to destabilise our communities.
We already have arrangements to protect clergy which are wise and appropriate. As far as possible our churches will remain open and available for anybody in need and those who wish to visit them.
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.