Church leaders respond to attack

Published November 1, 2001

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the United States of Sept. 11, many church leaders in the United States and from around the world offered a variety of responses. The following is a selection. Statement from bishops of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. released by the office of the Presiding Bishop:

We, your bishops, have come together in the shadow of the shattering events of Sept. 11. We in the United States now join that company of nations in which ideology disguised as true religion wreaks havoc and sudden death. Through this suffering, we have come into a new solidarity with those in other parts of the world for whom the evil forces of terrorism are a continuing fear and reality.

We grieve with those who have lost companions and loved ones, and pray for those who have so tragically died. We pray for the President of the United States, his advisors, and for the members of Congress that they may be given wisdom and prudence for their deliberations and measured patience in their actions. We pray for our military chaplains, and for those serving in the Armed Forces along with their families in these anxious and uncertain days. We also pray “for our enemies, and those who wish us harm; and for all whom we have injured or offended.”

At the same time we give thanks for the rescue workers and volunteers, and all those persons whose courageous efforts demonstrated a generosity and selflessness that bears witness to the spirit of our nation at its best. We give thanks too for all those who are reaching out to our Muslim brothers and sisters and others who are rendered vulnerable in this time of fear and recrimination.

We are called to self-examination and repentance: the willingness to change direction, to open our hearts and give room to God’s compassion as it seeks to bind up, to heal, and to make all things new and whole. God’s project, in which we participate by virtue of our baptism, is the ongoing work of reordering and transforming the patterns of our common life so they may reveal God’s justness – not as an abstraction but in bread for the hungry and clothing for the naked.

Let us therefore wage reconciliation. Let us offer our gifts for the carrying out of God’s ongoing work of reconciliation, healing and making all things new. To this we pledge ourselves and call our church.

Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey

This is a time of shock and deep distress. The suffering, devastation and loss of life touch us all. I hope that people of faith will take time to pray for those who are suffering in the aftermath of these terrible events. I pray that God’s presence will be with them. I am grateful to those churches able to remain open for private prayer and reflection.

Riah Abu al-Assal, Bishop in Jerusalem, The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, in a letter to ECUSA Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold

Like many in the world, I am awfully shocked at what I witness and hear from Jerusalem the troubled city. I find myself unable to comprehend or even to begin to understand the horrors of this divided and broken world.

There are no available answers for our questions. Instead I am silenced. We forcefully denounce this unjustified action, and we join our sufferings with yours. On behalf of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, ordained and lay, I assure you of our ceaseless prayers for you and all your people, calling upon Almighty God to comfort the hearts of the bereaved for the loss of their dear ones and beseeching him to heal all the injured in body, mind or spirit.

Palestinians leaders: Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, Pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church, Bethlehem, Dr. Nuha Khoury, The International Center of Bethlehem, Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, General Director

With deep sorrow and profound grief we write this message to offer our heartfelt condolences to the mothers, fathers, children, friends and families of the thousands of innocent people who have been the victims of the terrorist attacks on the United States. We would like to reach out to all of our American friends to assure them that we stand by them at this tragic time.

Archbishop Peter Watson of Melbourne, Australia

We are shocked and dismayed at the appalling tragedy and loss of life in the United States. Our hearts go out to all the injured and those who have lost loved ones.

Those who have lost their lives, the injured and the grieving are very much in our hearts and prayers. We pray, too, for President Bush and the American people: that they will be comforted by the world-wide outpouring of support and sympathy.

Archbishop Livingstone Mpalanyi-Nkoyoyo of Uganda

We have received with shock the sad news of the terrorist attacks in some parts of your country with utter disbelief!

The Christians here stand shoulder to shoulder with your people as they grieve and struggle to come to terms with the terrible tragedy which has befallen your country and the whole world.

We are crying out for justice; we are praying for America and for world peace; we are praying for the families and institutions that have lost their dear ones and property in this senseless, selfish and cowardly attack.

Jubal Neves, Bishop of Southwestern Brazil

We are together with all the Anglican Communion in prayer today. Facing the terrorist attack to the people of North America yesterday we understand better where the ambition (the core of sin) may lead the human being… We pray for the people and families in suffering, for the thousand of victims, for justice and peace.


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