Statement on the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11
Archbishop Timothy Dolan President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
September 8, 2011
As we commemorate the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon, it is a time for remembrance, resolve and renewal.
We reverently recall those who were most directly affected by this tragedy—those who died, were injured or lost loved ones. In a special way we recall the selfless first responders—firefighters, police, chaplains, emergency workers, and other brave persons—who risked, and many times lost, their lives in their courageous efforts to save others.
We also remember how our nation responded to the terrifying events of that day—we turned to prayer, and then turned to one another to offer help and support. Hands were folded in prayer and opened in service to those who had lost so much.
We resolve today and always to reject hatred and resist terrorism. The greatest resource we have in these struggles is faith. Ten years ago our Conference of Bishops issued a Pastoral Message, Living with Faith and Hope after September 11, which drew on the rich resources of our Catholic faith to minister to our nation and world. The truth of that Pastoral Message still resonates today.
A decade later we remain resolved to reject extreme ideologies that perversely misuse religion to justify indefensible attacks on innocent civilians, to embrace persons of all religions, including our Muslim neighbors, and to welcome refugees seeking safety. We steadfastly refrain from blaming the many for the actions of a few and insist that security needs can be reconciled with our immigrant heritage without compromising either one. Gratefully mindful of the continuing sacrifices of the men and women in our armed forces, and their families, we also resolve to bring a responsible end to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
This tenth anniversary of 9/11 can be a time of renewal. Ten years ago we came together across religious, political, social and ethnic lines to stand as one people to heal wounds and defend against terrorism. As we face today's challenges of people out of work, families struggling, and the continuing dangers of wars and terrorism, let us summon the 9/11 spirit of unity to confront our challenges. Let us pray that the lasting legacy of 9/11 is not fear, but rather hope for a world renewed.
In remembering the fateful events of September 11, 2001, may we resolve to put aside our differences and join together in the task of renewing our nation and world. Let us make our own the prayer of Pope Benedict XVI when he visited Ground Zero in New York in 2008:
O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today at this site,
the scene of incredible violence and pain….
God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.