From the Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair, (November 18, 2015)
Archbishop of Hartford
I write this reflection as Paris’ death toll nears 130 people – mostly young concert-goers, soccer fans and Parisians who thought they were going to enjoy Friday night out. Instead, they died as innocent victims at the hands of militant extremists, and France experienced the deadliest violence to strike the country since World War II, or what some journalists have called France’s version of 9/11.
How does the world make sense of the atrocities when the ‘City of Light’ faces such darkness? Moreover, how do we as Christians respond to the murderous hate and hideous carnage of terrorism?
First, let us pray for our brothers and sisters who died senselessly and tragically, and for their families now grieving and grappling with emotions ranging from sorrow to anger to fear. Let us send our loving light to those who have been physically injured and acknowledge the medical professionals who helped in their rescue and care. Let’s include in our intercessions prayers for all those around the world who are the victims of terrorism, violence and religious persecution.
As Catholics we firmly believe that acts of terrorism and violence never serve to praise God.
We honor our heavenly Father and each other whenever we choose to remain faithful, loving agents of peace. Even as we do what is necessary to defend ourselves and others, we have to remember Our Lord’s words: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” And we certainly cannot judge all refugees from Syria, who are themselves the victims of terror, on the basis of some individual acts.
As an Archdiocesan family of faith, may we call upon the bond of humanity and help raise Paris up to the Light of God’s unconditional love and mercy. To the people of France, please know that we mourn with you and hold dear the lives lost from many countries, including our own.