Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher OP has called upon people to dedicate themselves to compassion and service rather than ego and ideology at an interfaith service at St Mary’s Cathedral following the terror attack in New Zealand.
The archbishop welcomed Australia’s Grand Mufti Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed and Prime Minister Scott Morrison to the remembrance ceremony on 17 March for those who lost their lives and to pray for the injured.
Also in attendance were Jewish, Hindu, Baha’i, Melkite, Coptic Orthodox and Anglican leaders plus civic leaders including Premier of NSW Gladys Berejiklian, Governor of NSW David Hurley, NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley, and the Consul General for New Zealand Bill Dobbie.
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Archbishop Fisher said that while it was important to come together in solidarity after the tragedy it was just as important to unite with people of all faiths in a common commitment to peace.
“We stand together today in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters in their grief, horror, and disgust,” he said.
“For if someone has killed, maimed and terrorised our neighbours, they have killed, maimed and terrorised us.
“But today is about more than fellow feeling. Where there is grief we will bring consolation; where there is horror, we will sow trust; where there is despair, we will offer hope.”
The Grand Muffi Dr Mohammed thanked the archbishop and all the attendees for supporting the Muslim community in New Zealand and Australia at a “most difficult time” and to help foster healing from “torrents of pain”.
“We are a large family, and we are only made a larger family in these trying and painful times,” he said. Hate, ideology and attempts to sow seeds of division “will not divide us” he added.
Archbishop Fisher said the actions committed against worshippers were those of an enemy of mankind and of God.
He advised young people to seek real strength in compassion and mercy, and to commit themselves to God, goodness, and their fellow men and women rather than to “ego and ideology”.
“Be willing to serve rather than seeking to dominate,” he said.
Fifty people died and at least 50 more were injured in the attacks on Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque in Christchurch on 15 March.
Pope Francis and the New Zealand bishops have expressed sorrow for victims and solidarity with all those affected.
“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,” read a telegram released by the Vatican and signed by his Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
“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.”