WelCom April 2019:
From Bishop Charles
16 March 2019
Ngā mihi kia koutou
The shocking events in Christchurch, with tragic and senseless loss of life, are impacting on us all.
It’s tempting to think the killers were deranged, yet all was meticulously planned and calculated. Our reactions while varied probably carry a common element too. One person put it to me this way: ‘I just can’t understand how someone more or less my age, could be filled with such hate’.
One ‘positive’ from such tragedy is that it weaves the goodness of the human spirit closer together, at least for a while. From the Church world, I’ve received messages of concern and support from Ireland, England, Latvia, Brazil, Panama, Italy, the Vatican and Australia.
This Sunday’s (17 March) first reading talks of Abraham. It is through Abraham and Sarah that we Christians are brothers and sisters with all Muslims. The Abrahamic religions – Jews, Christians and Muslims – are the faith communities that descend from, and are united in, the worship of the God of Abraham. What a power for good that unity can be, in a world where so many seem to seek to divide and exclude.
Please see [this page] the New Zealand Bishops Statement in the wake of the killings and also a comforting message to us from Pope Francis.
On Sunday 17 March the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit hosted a Memorial Interfaith Service at 7.30pm. All were welcome to come and join with our Muslim brothers and sisters of Palmerston North, to pray for the deceased and their families, for forgiveness, and for peace in our world. [See story]
15 March 2019
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.
+ Patrick Dunn, Bishop of Auckland and NZCBC President
+ Charles Drennan, Bishop of Palmerston North and NZCBC Secretary
+ John Dew, Cardinal Archbishop of Wellington
+ Paul Martin, Bishop of Christchurch
+ Steve Lowe, Bishop of Hamilton
+ Michael Dooley, Bishop of Dunedin
Message of condolence from Pope Francis
16 March 2019
His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life caused by the senseless acts of violence at two Mosques in Christchurch, and he assures all New Zealanders, and in particular the Muslim community, of his heartfelt solidarity in the wake of these attacks. Mindful of the efforts of the security and emergency personnel in this difficult situation, His Holiness prays for the healing of the injured, the consolation of those who grieve the loss of their loved ones, and for all affected by this tragedy. Commending those who have died to the loving mercy of Almighty God, Pope Francis invokes the divine blessings of comfort and strength upon the nation.
Statement from Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania
The Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) took time out of their executive meeting in Townsville, 18–24 March, to visit the local imam, pay their respects and deliver a statement of support following the Christchurch terrorist attack.
On behalf of the Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania including the Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands and Episcopal Conference of the Pacific and New Zealand, we wish to offer our support and prayers to the people of Christchurch and New Zealand.
The recent massacre at the mosques in Christchurch has brought deep grief to all of us. As church leaders of Oceania, we condemn this evil attack and are shocked and horrified that such an atrocity should take place against innocent people. We are equally horrified that it should be perpetrated in a place of prayer and worship, when freedom to worship is cherished in our countries.
We wish to express our deepest sympathies to the victims and those who grieve because of the consequences of the terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand.
To all our Muslim brothers and sisters in New Zealand, Australia and around the world, we stand in solidarity with you in your horror, grief and distress.
We offer our prayers on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Oceania to the deceased, the injured and to all the individuals and communities who have been affected by this senseless violence. We also wish to pray for Bishop Paul Martin who was supposed to join us in Townsville this week for our meeting.
In times like this we should take the time to reflect on the way we treat one another as children of God.
Executive Committee of FCBCO
Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, Archbishop of Suva, Fiji – President of FCBCO; Bishops Charles Drennan, Bishop of Palmerston North – Vice President of FCBCO; Tim Harris, Bishop of Townsville; Michael McCarthy, Bishop Rockhampton; Archbishop Christopher Cardone, Bishop of Honiara; Bishops Peter Brown, Bishop of American Samoa, Pago Pago; Anton Bal, Bishop of Kundiawa.
New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Interfaith Relations
18 March 2019
Dear brothers and sisters in Aotearoa New Zealand,
It is with profound sadness we grieve for the deaths and injury of Muslims in Christchurch.
As a committee and as individuals we have formed many wonderful relationships with Muslim friends and acquaintances. We have been blessed by dialogue, which has revealed the beauty and peace of those who live a religion of prayer, generosity and belief in the same God of Abraham in whom we believe. Our practices and understandings regarding faith may be different in many ways, but there is much we share and celebrate. Our differences are an opportunity to engage with one another, never a reason for division.
While our hearts go out to our Muslim brothers and sisters in their loss, pain and fear, we wish to draw attention towards the need for each of us to open our hearts to those of different cultures and faiths. We pray not just for healing of the injured and comfort to those who mourn, but for a renewed outreach to others in love, kindness and welcome.
The displays of grief and compassion exhibited by so many people signal hope. They reveal the larger truth of humanity. We need to continue to practically reach out to one another in friendship and kindness. More than a moment in time but a habit of life. Ultimately it is a personal choice, in our context, to do as Jesus did – reaching out with physical hands and loving our neighbour.
We especially hold our Muslim friends in prayer at this time and we pray for all peoples and all faiths. May we be instruments of peace to one another so that all may feel safe and loved.
On behalf of committee members: Bishop Michael Dooley, Colin MacLeod (chair), Mary Eastham, Adele Churchman, Teresa Fernandez, Matthew Gardner, Daniel Kleinsman, Beate Matthies and Christopher Longhurst.
The NZCBCIR has produced a booklet, Promoting Interfaith Relations, with suggestions for supporting the building of relationships. The link is: www.catholic.org.nz/assets/PromotingInterfaithRelations.pdf