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Boston tragedy calls us to build a civilisation based on love, says cardinal

By on Friday, 19 April 2013

Barack Obama addresses the congregation (Photo: CNS)

Barack Obama addresses the congregation (Photo: CNS)

In an interfaith prayer service on Thursday religious and political leaders emphasised the enduring strength of the people of Boston and urged them to find consolation and healing in their continued support of one another.

Boston Cardinal Seán O’Malley welcomed the congregation that packed the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and told them the service was offered in solidarity with those who lost their lives or were injured in the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

“We must overcome the culture of death and promote a culture of life,” he said, stressing that the blueprint for doing so was found in the passage on the beatitudes read during the prayer service.

The only way for people to “repair our broken world” is not as individuals but as a community and as a family, he said, noting that the tragedy provides “a challenge and an opportunity for us to work together with a renewed spirit of determination and solidarity and with the firm conviction that love is stronger than death”.

The cardinal, who returned to Boston after a retreat in the Holy Land, said the tragic event “shakes us out of our complacency and indifference and calls us to focus on the task of building a civilisation that is based on love, justice, truth and service”.

Other religious leaders from Boston who spoke at the prayer service were the Rev Liz Walker from Roxbury Presbyterian Church; Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Methodios; Rabbi Ronne Friedman of Temple Israel; the Rev Nancy Taylor, minister at Old South Church; Nasser Weddady, chair of the New England Interfaith Council and director of the American Islamic Congress; Bishop John Borders III, pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church in Mattapan; and the Rev Roberto Miranda, pastor of Lion of Judah Congregation in Roxbury.

Obama and O'Malley

President Barak Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Diane Patrick, Angela Menino and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino

“God’s love will have last word. God has not forsaken Boston,” said Rev Miranda.

Many of the religious leaders spoke of the goodness of humanity shown immediately after the bombs exploded not only in the actions of first responders, but with people helping each other and runners even going directly to hospital to give blood.

Rev Taylor said those who helped others that day “made their own bodies sacraments of blessing”.

Mother Olga Yaqob comforts roommate of bombing victim

The leaders also spoke of the presence of evil but did not focus on it. Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Methodios said “evil reared its ugly head” the day the bombs exploded in Boston. Rev Walker stressed that the city has always “faced darkness head on” and would use similar resolve to find healing from this tragedy.

She noted that when people ask “where was God?” amid such devastation, she does not have the answer but she does know “God is here in Boston now”.

Political leaders who addressed the congregation were Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and President Barack Obama.

Mr Menino said Boston was a city with courage, compassion and strength that “knows no bounds” and emphasised that nothing could defeat the “heart of the city” or “tear down the city’s resilience”.

The city’s longest-serving mayor, who has been in office since 1993, said the support Boston had received gives it the courage to say goodbye to those who were killed in the marathon bombings. He thanked everyone for prayers and wishes, New Yorkers in particular.

Governor Patrick said that even though his faith urges believers to always give thanks, he said he “wasn’t feeling it” the afternoon of Monday, April 15. In retrospect, he said he is thankful for the response of so many people from first responders to government leaders,

He said he is most thankful for those in Boston who “in the aftermath of such senseless violence, let their first instinct be kindness”.

“So, we will recover and repair,” the governor said. “We will grieve our losses and heal. We will rise and we will endure. We will have accountability without vengeance; vigilance without fear. And we will remember, I hope and pray, long after the buzz of Boylston Street is back and the media has turned its attention elsewhere, that the grace this tragedy exposed is the best of who we are.”

Mr Obama said the marathon’s beauty was shattered by violence and noted that the prayer service was an opportunity to “come together to pray, and mourn, and measure our loss”.

“But we also come together today to reclaim that state of grace – to reaffirm that the spirit of this city is undaunted, and the spirit of this country shall remain undimmed.”

The president offered prayers and support for those killed in the tragedy and offered words of encouragement for the wounded telling them: “As you begin this long journey of recovery, your city is with you… We will all be with you as you learn to stand and walk and, yes, run again. Of that I have no doubt. You will run again.”

He said the perpetrators of senseless violence fail to see that Americans find strength and power in their faith in each other and love for each other and for their country.

“That’s why a bomb can’t beat us. That’s why we don’t hunker down. That’s why we don’t cower in fear. We carry on. We race. We strive. We build, and we work, and we love,” he said.

“And this time next year, on the third Monday in April,” he added, “the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever, and to cheer even louder, for the 118th Boston Marathon.”

Contributing to this story was Carol Zimmermann in Washington.

  • la catholic state

    I wish our Church leaders would call for a civilisation built on Jesus Christ. That might be what they mean…..but maybe it wouldn’t be acceptable in our diverse culture. But I still think that is what they as Catholic leaders, should say. A civilisation built on love is too vague and abstract. But there is nothing abstract about the person of Jesus Christ. Are we ashamed of Jesus Christ?!

  • stephanie

    in interfaith services like this the focus is on loving fellowship, the values we share in common, and the underlying spirit of the presence of God in our lives

  • la catholic state

    Probably. But still it stands….if we are ashamed of Jesus Christ….He will be ashamed of us before the Father as He said Himself. Worth thinking about.

  • LocutusOP

    I can’t see any value in holding an interfaith service inside a cathedral….I actually shuddered after seeing the sort of people(one in particular) who were invited to speak on a Church pulpit.

    Even though it was outside Mass we should not be providing a platform for such people.

    It’s important that the Church is clear on who its enemies are, even on occasions which call for a measure of solidarity.

  • Clinton R.

    This is ridiculous. Another ‘spirit’ of Vatican II moment. Interfaith “prayer services” are a joke. Did the Church have prayers in the ancient days with their pagan Roman overlords? Cardinal O’Malley clapping for a pro abortion, pro homosexual evil man like Obama? And he is going to be an advisor to the Pope? God help us! The apostasy of the Catholic Church continues.

  • Kevin

    These are all good comments.

    One positive moment reported above was when the Cardinal joined some dots for the President:
    “We must overcome the culture of death and promote a culture of life.”

  • LocutusOP

    A very veiled comment indeed.

    Unless you spend your time following speeches by the Popes you are unlikely to even untangle the meaning of those words. There is no reason a Catholic cardinal in a Catholic cathedral should not be more blunt and forceful in his words.

  • stephanie

    Everybody loves Jesus. The whole world loves Jesus. Muslims love Jesus, Hindus, and Buddhists love Jesus, lots of Jews love Jesus. No need to worry about whether people are acknowledging Him.

  • Julian Lord

    Unless you spend your time following speeches by the Popes you are unlikely to even untangle the meaning of those words

    Cardinal O’Malley is in fact extremely well-known in the US as one of the more prominent and tireless supporters of the pro-life movement — the notion that the comment was not understood in the US as a reference to this is quite silly.

  • LocutusOP

    Obviously I don’t live in the U.S. so I don’t read their press but I’d be surprised if anyone other than the Catholic press picked up on the “culture of life” statement. In such an atmosphere, with people trying to trump each others sound bites, this statement would have disappeared into obscurity.

    If I’m wrong then I’m wrong, but I doubt it.

  • la catholic state

    That’s nonsense. Not everybody loves Jesus. if they did they wouldn’t spend their time promoting laws and actions contrary to His commands….we wouldn’t have divorce, abortion, the downgrading of Christianity in public life and the teaching in our schools that all religions and ‘prophets’ are equal. Neither would we be in battle for true marriage as opposed to gay ‘marriage’. We wouldn’t be taken to court for wearing the Holy Cross at work….and on and on it goes. Jesus Christ is insulted and hated in so many ways subtle and unsubtle in our society…..that it is probable that only a small minority love Jesus. And then are jeered at, more often than not for saying so.
    Even Jesus Christ spoke of those who hated Him!

  • la catholic state

    Culture of life is just too vague as to be near meaningless. Obama probably thinks he is a strong proponent of the culture of life with his anti-gun stance…..when he most certainly is not!

  • Michelle Egan

    Stephanie if you are a Catholic, then you are obviously a very poorly catechised one, what you have written is complete nonsense.

  • Michelle Egan

    More ‘noddy’ theology from the false spirit of Vatican II

  • stephanie

    I stand by my comment. Everybody loves Jesus. I think we do more harm to Jesus when we try to lock Him in a box and tell people that they must only believe in Jesus in a certain way, in a way that we define, and that only we have the key to how to access Jesus. And we do even more harm to Him when we go around with an attitude of persecuted self-righteousness in His name.

  • la catholic state

    Jesus is perfectly defined in the Gospels. And I’m not talking about our attitude of ‘persecuted self-righteousness’ (which we don’t have)….but of our not proclaiming Jesus Christ to everybody. As you said….we shouldn’t keep Jesus in a box. No….we should proclaim Him to the world. And we’re not doing that so much.

  • LocutusOP

    I don’t know about that, but for sure the enemies of individual liberty and authentic freedom would have probably been thinking “hooray for gun control” when the words “culture of death” were uttered….It would surprise me if much of the media did not portray it that way either.

  • James M

    Interfaith services are for religions designed by committee. Catholicism was not. Such services are a nonsense, because they are not the worship of any one religion – they represent what does not exist. They are a parody of the Church’s universality.

  • James M

    Not true. Jesus Christ is loved only on His terms, which require obedience to His Will. Islam is based on denying Him, denying His teaching, denying His unique Sonship, denying His Deity, denying His finality. Not to acknowledge Him means not loving Him at all. He who rejects Him, rejects His Father Who sent Him. The OP is totally on target. Your post confuses sentimentality with truth, and feeling with obedience. Jesus Christ is the rightful King of every creature, including those who rebel against His authority by denying Who He is; and He will break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

    Psalm 110:

    The Lord is at your right hand;
    he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
    6 He will execute judgment among the nations,
    filling them with corpses;
    he will shatter chiefs
    over the wide earth.
    7 He will drink from the brook by the way;
    therefore he will lift up his head.

    Psalm 2:

    Why do the nations conspire,
    and the peoples plot in vain?
    2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
    3 “Let us burst their bonds asunder,
    and cast their cords from us.”

    4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
    the Lord has them in derision.
    5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
    and terrify them in his fury, saying,
    6 “I have set my king
    on Zion, my holy hill.”

    7 I will tell of the decree of the Lord:
    He said to me, “You are my son,
    today I have begotten you.
    8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
    and the ends of the earth your possession.
    9 You shall break them with a rod of iron,
    and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

    10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
    be warned, O rulers of the earth.
    11 Serve the Lord with fear,
    with trembling 12 kiss his feet,[a]
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way;
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.

    Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

    Psalm 45

    My heart overflows with a goodly theme;
    I address my verses to the king;
    my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.

    2 You are the fairest of the sons of men;
    grace is poured upon your lips;
    therefore God has blessed you for ever.
    3 Gird your sword upon your thigh, O mighty one,
    in your glory and majesty!

    4 In your majesty ride forth victoriously
    for the cause of truth and to defend the right;
    let your right hand teach you dread deeds!
    5 Your arrows are sharp
    in the heart of the king’s enemies;
    the peoples fall under you. 6 Your divine throne endures for ever and ever.
    Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity;
    7 you love righteousness and hate wickedness.

    Revelation 19:

    11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.

    12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself.

    13 He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.

    14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses.

    15 From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the
    fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords.

    Revelation 1:

    12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands,

    13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden girdle round his breast;

    14 his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire,

    15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters;

    16 in his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth issued a sharp
    two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

    17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right
    hand upon me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last,

    18 and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

    19 Now write what you see, what is and what is to take place hereafter.

    20 As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

    The Christ foretold in the OT and revealed in the NT is not loved and adored & blessed and praised and glorified by the heathen. None of those people admit this is true:

    Revelation 5:

    And I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals; 2 and I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I wept much that no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Weep not; lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

    6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth; 7 and he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints; 9 and they sang a new song, saying,

    “Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals,
    for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God
    from every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
    10 and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on earth.”

    11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, “To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshipped.

    As for Psalm 72, here it is:

  • raymarshall

    These interfaith services just gives the message to the 70% [or more] of poorly catechized Catholics that all churches are the same.

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    The Problem of EVIL, first it has to be dealt within ourselves who claim to be CHRISTIANS in the Way JESUS THE LORD WANTED US. Let HIS Light shine, there it is and we have it.

    His Light shines only through HIS WORD.

    IN HIM darkness lost and in us?

    Why are we DIVIDED into so many Churches?

    Why are we not reaching out to the ORIGINAL AND PURE CHURCH when all in the CHURCH were APOSTLES?

    Why are we who call ourselves Christians not his Apostles in practice to bring HIS LIGHT?

    Why are we having only LEADERS in our Churches instead APOSTLES?

    From LEADERS we hear, and keep hearing what we have been hearing…

    Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    “Everybody loves Jesus.”???

    Just thinking with feelings!

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    ONLY FUNDAMENTALISTS oppose the common ground of humanity.

    If there is no common ground, there is no ground at all.

    Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    “”I wish our Church leaders would call for a civilisation built on Jesus
    Christ. That might be what they mean…..but maybe it wouldn’t be
    acceptable in our diverse culture. But I still think that is what they
    as Catholic leaders, should say.”

    I think the word CULTURE would suit here better.

    You are very RIGHT in this sense. But then in practice they should have the AUTHORITY like that of Jesus the Lord which the Apostles had and whose offices these have inherited. This is very much wanting because they are occupied with all sorts of worldly things and rituals of the dead at the expense of the all important work of God: THE PROCLAIMING WORD.

    See how it was with the 12 APOSTLES of the Lord when a problem arose among them, “……….the Hellenists complained………..because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table. Brothers, select… reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Ref. Act. 6, 1-4

    In the Primitive Church, since every Christian was an Apostle filled with the Spirit of Jesus and the knowledge of his word, non-Christians were drawn to them and the Church went on growing very fast from glory to glory.

    Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    “….if we are ashamed of Jesus Christ….He will be ashamed of us before the Father as He said Himself.”

    If Christians and Christian leaders are not cornered with the word of God in this manner, the whole Christian world can be lost like Europe of today or even in a worse way

    Thomas Poovathinkal SSP.

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    The ENEMY within is more dangerous.

  • Benedict Carter

    I am sick to death of these labels which can mean anything you like. Instead of “civilisation of love”, and even “culture of life” let’s say it: WE WANT A CATHOLIC WORLD.

    Why can’t these Hierarchs say THIS?

  • Benedict Carter

    There is no, and can be no, common ground between God and Satan.

  • $20596475

    Because they realise that to do so would dig your hole so deep your voice would be lost in it. The approach of the traditionalists is a self defeating plunge to extinction. Leadership requires vision and an understanding of the problems. You only see your own view and not that of others.

  • $20596475

    Please reflect for a while on this. I believe in tolerance and respect for other points of view and beliefs. The only thing I cannot tolerate is intolerance. I do not believe in a “one size fits all” view of the world. I can therefore definitely see the views of others and have no problem at all in them holding them, provided they too show me the same respect. You included.

    In contrast what I get from you is undiluted self righteousness, and intolerance of any alternative views. Your comment is therefore significantly more ironic than anything I have ever said.

  • Julian Lord

    I believe in tolerance and respect for other points of view and beliefs

    Your actions to the contrary speak far louder than these “pious words”.

    On my part, I cannot pretend to respect the horrendously limitative views that you continually foist upon the discussions here, nor the extreme lack of tolerance that you continue to post daily in here, as exampled by this very post of yours where you congratulate yourself in the most hypocritical, self-serving manner imaginable, on your own so-called and self-described “tolerance” and “respect”.

    NEWSFLASH : No, you DON’T get to define what “tolerance” and “respect” mean, on the basis of your own twisted notions that would exclude any points of view that you are in personal disagreement with, and that you eagerly attack in the most blatantly hostile manner imaginable.

    Tolerance and respect absolutely require avoiding posting such blatant ad hominem attacks as in the above post of yours, under the hypocritical pretense that these ad hominems might express “tolerance” or “respect”.

    They are your direct expression of the exact opposite.

  • $20596475

    Responding to an “ad hominem” is a response, and not another “ad hominem”.

    I don’t post on a daily basis, nor do I post nearly so often as you do. I only respond when appropriate.

    Of course I don’t get to define tolerance and respect. I just use them.

    I tolerate your views, whilst you very clearly cannot tolerate mine. I will leave it to others to make their own decisions about who is the hypocritical one.

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    Inter-religious dialogue is promoted by the Church. It is good for some people, like renewal is good for some people. Wherever people are caught up ruts they feel comfortable. EVANGELISATION is the KEY which only true Apostles can DO for they KEEP THE WORD and are lead by the SPIRIT of Jesus the Lord.

    Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    Seeing things only in black and white!

    Is a rainbow just made of two colors only? or of……..more?

  • Charles Martel

    Let’s base our civilisation on love by all means, but let’s also keep our powder dry. We didn’t win at Lepanto by loving the Turk…

  • lay capuchin


  • lay capuchin

    like judas?