Archbishop Hebda, Bishop Cozzens condemn violence; say Christ is answer to despair

| August 18, 2017 | 2 Comments

Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Bishop Andrew Cozzens “join men and women of good will around our archdiocese and around the globe who condemn all senseless violence and expressions of hatred,” they said in a joint statement Aug. 18.

“The recent attacks in Charlottesville and Barcelona, as well as the bombing at a Bloomington mosque earlier this month, have forced all of us to confront the existence of evil in this world,” they said. “While we cannot known or judge what is in the heart of another, we know that we need to confront any evidence that racism and hateful prejudice reside in our hearts. The temptation to hopelessness is all too real, but we know that we have in Christ the answer to despair.”

They quoted from remarks Pope Francis gave before praying the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square Aug. 18, 2013: “The Christian’s real force is the force of truth and of love, which involves renouncing all forms of violence. Faith and violence are incompatible. Instead, faith and strength go together. Christians are not violent; they are strong. And with what kind of strength? That of meekness, the strength of meekness, the strength of love.”

The bishops encouraged people to “people of encounter who look for opportunities to engage others in ways that acknowledge the dignity of each human person.”

“Living in such a diverse community, the possibilities are real and endless,” they said. “We need to be witnesses of peace, hope, kindness and charity, which should begin in our homes, neighborhoods and parishes.”

They also encouraged people to “acknowledge and promote the power of prayer.”

“We ask the faithful of this archdiocese and our neighbors of good will to join us in praying for those who have been killed and injured, as well as for all who have experienced the scourge of racism and discrimination,” they said. “Let us pray for peace, patience and solidarity in our community and among all peoples.”

The Mass for Reconciliation  and the Mass in Time of War or Civil Disturbance, the bishops said, “would both be appropriate for parishes to celebrate in the days to come.”

The bishops were responding to race-related intimidation and violence during protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 12-13, that included an Ohio man associated with white supremacy driving a car into a crowd, killing a demonstrator and injuring at least 19 others. On Aug. 17, a man also used a vehicle as a weapon in a popular Barcelona street, killing 13 and injuring more than 100. ISIS took credit. Two other terriorst events in Spain that day may be related.

In Minnesota, the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington was bombed Aug. 5, extensively damaging the imam’s office.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet were among religious organizations that sent condolences.

“On behalf of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St Paul Province, and Consociates, please know that our thoughts and hearts are with you and Minnesota’s entire Muslim Community at this most challenging time,” they wrote the center’s Executive Director Mohamed Omar and its Muslim community Aug. 7.

“We are heartbroken that you experienced this egregious violation of your sacred space,” they said. “As a community of faith, we are committed to peace, unity and love. You are and will remain in our prayers.”

Father Erich Rutten, chairman of the Commission on Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, represented the archdiocese at a solidarity event Aug. 8 at the mosque.

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