Continuing violence in the U.S.-led war on terrorism is denigrating the memory of the victims of Sept. 11, says a New York-based bishop who conducted memorial services recently for firefighters, flight crews and other victims of the terrorist attacks.
Bishop Stephen P. Bouman of the Metropolitan New York synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America participated in an August World Council of Churches meeting of 40 churches from around the world to reflect on the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
?The emotions (of survivors and family members) are still raw and it sometimes amazes me how close to the surface it still is,? Bishop Bouman said.
Participants in the meeting also expressed a growing concern that the war on terrorism and bloody retaliations between Israelis and Palestinians will only lead to more terrorism and violence.
?At Ground Zero, the victims and people who lost loved ones were not crying out for revenge,? Bishop Bouman said. ?They were saying, we hope our son or daughter died for something. They also showed an impulse to protect the stranger. At one meeting, people formed a protective cocoon around members of an Arab congregation. And for every window that was broken in an Arab home or center of worship, people sent a thousand flowers. We can?t let the better instincts of our congregations get hijacked by vengeance.?
Elizabeth Ferris, program executive in the WCC?s International Affairs team in Geneva, said the meeting reflected ?a yearning? by church leaders outside of the United States to find out what church people are thinking about the aftermath of the terror attacks.
About one-fourth of the participants were international visitors from Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Japan, Great Britain, Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines and Puerto Rico.
Most of the international visitors expressed dismay at the U.S. response to Sept. 11 by military action in Afghanistan, the Philippines and, potentially, in Iraq.