WelCom April 2021
The New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Interfaith Relations sent a letter of support last month to the country’s Muslim communities on the second anniversary of the Christchurch mosques’ atrocity.
Fifty-one worshippers died and many more were wounded when a gunman opened fire in attacks on the Masjid Al-Noor and Linwood mosques on 15 March 2019.
‘In a spirit of peace and prayer we reach out at this time to those who live in this land, and especially the Muslim community of New Zealand,’ the letter said. It was signed by committee chair, Colin MacLeod, who is also the director of the Church’s National Centre for Religious Studies.
‘We give thanks for the diversity of deeply held religious beliefs which draw people to embrace one another with compassion, healing and hope.’
The letter went on to say, ‘As Catholic people of faith, who share an ancient relationship especially with our Muslim and Jewish brothers and sisters through our shared connection to Abraham, we acknowledge the presence of God in this mahi. While many may hold that religious beliefs are the cause of violence, we know from our rich relationships with those of many faiths, the choice to cause harm to others is grounded not in the divine but in other attitudes such as selfishness or fear.
‘We pray to our loving God that all violence may cease, and that diversity of faith may be seen as an opportunity for dialogue through which all may be blessed. We join this prayer with those of the interfaith community of Aotearoa.
‘As Pope Francis and Ahmed Al-Tayyeb captured so powerfully in their shared Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, signed in Abu Dhabi, 4 February 2019, “Faith leads a believer to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and loved.” This is how we choose to respond. Brother, sister – welcome.’
The committee’s letter was sent to various parties, especially our Muslim brothers and sisters.