Our grief threatens to overwhelm our community


Calling the city’s grief “raw and real,” New Zealand Bishop Paul Martin of Christchurch called on people to overcome hate with love after Friday’s attack on two mosques in the city left 50 people dead.

“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,” Martin said at a memorial Mass on Saturday.

“We know that our loving God has not caused this pain, but the freedom God gives us as a mark of his great love has been tragically misused and abused,” the bishop said.

“We gather here this morning because we are at a loss about what to do or what to say. I know that many of you have already reached out to members of the Muslim community in your neighbourhoods and workplaces. Your acts of love are already overpowering the hate,” he said.

Three and a half hours after the mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch last Friday, New Zealand’s six Catholic bishops had issued a statement expressing their solidarity with New Zealand’s Muslim community.

Their message reads:

“Dear Members of the Muslim community in Aotearoa New Zealand,

“We hold you in prayer as we hear the terrible news of violence against Muslims at mosques in Christchurch.

“We are profoundly aware of the positive relationships we have with Islamic people in this land, and we are particularly horrified that this has happened at a place and time of prayer.

“We are deeply saddened that people have been killed and injured, and our hearts go out to them, their families and wider community.

“We wish you to be aware of our solidarity with you in the face of such violence.”

The bishops signed their letter “Peace, Salaam,”

An ecumenical grouping of churches comprising Baptist, Anglican, Methodist, Salvation Army, Catholic and independent churches, the Christchurch Inner-City Christian Ministers’ Association, wrote to the city’s Muslim community saying:

“In the face of today’s horrific shooting, the combined inner-city Christian ministers and their congregations wish to extend our love to the wider Muslim Community of Christchurch and assure them of our friendship and support at this time of great loss.

“Be assured of our continuing prayers as our joint city community and people struggle to understand what has happened in the wake of this unconscionable act.

“As members of two faith traditions, born out of a shared Abrahamic inheritance, we stand in solidarity with you, looking and crying to God, the source of all.”

A message sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, on behalf of Pope Francis, said the pope was “deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life caused by the senseless acts of violence” at the mosques.

“He assures all New Zealanders, and in particular the Muslim community, of his heartfelt solidarity in the wake of these attacks.” He also offered prayers and blessings to those injured, those grieving, those who died and emergency personnel involved.


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News category: New Zealand.

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