09/25/2015, 00.00
VATICAN – UNITED STATES
Send to a friend

Pope at Ground Zero: life is always destined to triumph over the prophets of destruction

"This is a place where we shed tears; we weep out of a sense of helplessness in the face of injustice, murder, and the failure to settle conflicts through dialogue.” Yet, “our presence together will be a powerful sign of our shared desire to be a force for reconciliation, peace and justice in this community and throughout the world.”

New York (AsiaNews) – Speaking today at an interfaith meeting at the Ground Zero Memorial in New York, following his speech at the United Nations, Pope Francis said, “we see the face of pain, a pain which still touches us and cries out to heaven”. Yet, thinking about all the rescuers who died, “we also have a palpable sense of the heroic goodness which people are capable of”. Indeed, this “place of death became a place of life too, a place of saved lives, a hymn to the triumph of life over the prophets of destruction and death, to goodness over evil, to reconciliation and unity over hatred and division.”

After arriving with Card Timothy M. Dolan of New York, the Holy Father laid flowers at the edge of the fountain at the memorial site. He also met 20 family members of fallen first responders killed on 11 September.

Inside Foundation Hall, he went down to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, where 12 religious leaders were already waiting.

Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove, the senior rabbi of Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City, and Imam Khalid Latif, executive director and chaplain for the Islamic Center at New York University, led prayers.

Representatives of the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Christian and Muslim communities read meditations on peace, and a choir sang a Jewish prayer in honour of the deceased.

Last, Francis spoke.

“I feel many different emotions standing here at Ground Zero, where thousands of lives were taken in a senseless act of destruction. Here grief is palpable. The water we see flowing towards that empty pit reminds us of all those lives which fell prey to those who think that destruction, tearing down, is the only way to settle conflicts. It is the silent cry of those who were victims of a mind-set, which knows only violence, hatred and revenge. A mind-set which can only cause pain, suffering, destruction and tears.

“The flowing water is also a symbol of our tears. Tears at so much devastation and ruin, past and present. This is a place where we shed tears, we weep out of a sense of helplessness in the face of injustice, murder, and the failure to settle conflicts through dialogue. Here we mourn the wrongful and senseless loss of innocent lives because of the inability to find solutions which respect the common good. This flowing water reminds us of yesterday’s tears, but also of all the tears still being shed today.

“A few moments ago,” he added, “I met some of the families of the fallen first responders. Meeting them made me see once again how acts of destruction are never impersonal, abstract or merely material. They always have a face, a concrete story, names. In those family members, we see the face of pain, a pain which still touches us and cries out to heaven.

“At the same time, those family members showed me the other face of this attack, the other face of their grief: the power of love and remembrance. A remembrance that does not leave us empty and withdrawn. The name of so many loved ones are written around the towers’ footprints. We can see them, we can touch them, and we can never forget them.

“Here, amid pain and grief, we also have a palpable sense of the heroic goodness which people are capable of, those hidden reserves of strength from which we can draw. In the depths of pain and suffering, you also witnessed the heights of generosity and service. Hands reached out, lives were given. In a metropolis which might seem impersonal, faceless, lonely, you demonstrated the powerful solidarity born of mutual support, love and self-sacrifice. No one thought about race, nationality, neighborhoods, religion or politics. It was all about solidarity, meeting immediate needs, brotherhood. It was about being brothers and sisters. New York City firemen walked into the crumbling towers, with no concern for their own wellbeing. Many succumbed; their sacrifice enabled great numbers to be saved.

“This place of death became a place of life too, a place of saved lives, a hymn to the triumph of life over the prophets of destruction and death, to goodness over evil, to reconciliation and unity over hatred and division.

“It is a source of great hope that in this place of sorrow and remembrance I can join with leaders representing the many religious traditions which enrich the life of this great city. I trust that our presence together will be a powerful sign of our shared desire to be a force for reconciliation, peace and justice in this community and throughout the world. For all our differences and disagreements, we can live in a world of peace. In opposing every attempt to create a rigid uniformity, we can and must build unity on the basis of our diversity of languages, cultures and religions, and lift our voices against everything which would stand in the way of such unity. Together we are called to say “no” to every attempt to impose uniformity and “yes” to a diversity accepted and reconciled.

“This can only happen if we uproot from our hearts all feelings of hatred, vengeance and resentment. We know that that is only possible as a gift from heaven. Here, in this place of remembrance, I would ask everyone together, each in his or her own way, to spend a moment in silence and prayer. Let us implore from on high the gift of commitment to the cause of peace. Peace in our homes, our families, our schools and our communities. Peace in all those places where war never seems to end. Peace for those faces which have known nothing but pain. Peace throughout this world which God has given us as the home of all and a home for all. Simply PEACE.

“In this way, the lives of our dear ones will not be lives which will one day be forgotten. Instead, they will be present whenever we strive to be prophets not of tearing down but of building up, prophets of reconciliation, prophets of peace.”

Send to a friend
Printable version
CLOSE X
See also
Pope talks about the Middle East, the Holy Land and the food crisis with Bush
13/06/2008
Benedict XVI at Ground Zero: prayer for peace, to heal from wounds and from hatred
20/04/2008
White House to stop Beijing's "imperialist" policy in the South China Sea
24/01/2017 15:55
National Commission for Women asks for 'immediate action' in the nun rape case in Kerala
07/02/2019 17:28
The pope at the UN, human rights and religious freedom
17/04/2008