With the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' 2018 fall general meeting now in the rearview…
Editorial: Our hope is in God
The world witnessed yet another heinous attack on a place of worship March 15, as a gunman in Christchurch, New Zealand, opened fire on two mosques. At least 50 people were killed and dozens more were injured. The number killed represented more homicides by gun violence than had taken place in the country from 2010 to 2015 combined.
Attacks within sacred spaces have become all too familiar. Just five months ago, we witnessed a similar shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, where 11 people were killed and seven injured. In late January, two bombings during Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo, Philippines, killed at least 20 and wounded 100 more. There are also the Charlestons and Sutherland Springs that must not be forgotten. And in this most recent attack in Christchurch, the shooter, a 28-year-old presumed white nationalist, published an online manifesto in which he referred to immigrants as “invaders.”
There is no one target, there is no one perpetrator, and there is seemingly no one who is safe. Nothing is untouchable. Nothing is sacred. But there is plenty that is reprehensible — and it is important for people of faith to come together in prayer and support, especially when victims are being targeted for religious beliefs.
The day after the attack, a Mass for peace was held at St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Christchurch.
“When a family member dies, we feel deep grief and loss. Such grief is raw and real, and words are completely inadequate,” said Bishop Paul Martin of Christchurch, according to Catholic News Service. “Today is such a day. We are unable to express the confusion and pain we feel. Our grief threatens to overwhelm our community at the tragic loss of our sisters and brothers and the act of hate that has been inflicted.
“We know, in solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers who gathered in the Christchurch mosques and around the world yesterday, that our only hope is in God,” he continued, repeating: “Our only hope is in God. Our only hope is in God.”
Following such events, criticism continues over the offering of “thoughts and prayers,” claiming that it is empty of action. But, we ask, when confronted with such atrocities, such evil, what could possibly be more effective than prayer?
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, found herself in hot water following the New Zealand incident when she tweeted, “What good are your thoughts and prayers when they don’t even keep the pews safe?”
That such a comment was made in the wake of violence that occurred during a time of prayer seems in poor taste, to say the very least. We must pray for both the victims and the attacker — that God’s law, love and peace may prevail, even amid such challenging moments.
Another deeply disturbing aspect of the attack was that it was gruesomely live-streamed on social media, giving the impression that the attacker believed he was participating in a warped kind of video game and was inviting others to join in. But it was no game, and such an action underscores the influence that social media continues to have as it all too effectively allows one to disconnect from reality and connect instead with others who provide validation for one’s own confused thoughts.
Remembering that our only hope is in God, let us together implore him for an end to violence, for an end to hatred and bigotry, and for an end to the evil that is at the root of it all.
OSV Editorial Board: Gretchen R. Crowe, Scott Richert, York Young