Pope Francis in a Post-9/11 World...
I can remember my parents talking about where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Looking back to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, I’m starting to get the feeling that I’ll talk about it in much the same way as time goes on.
I had just started my senior year of high school at St. Xavier, a Jesuit high school in Cincinnati, Ohio. In a somewhat ironic twist, I was in the middle of a class called “20th-Century History” when news of the attacks was announced. Our professor stopped his lesson for the day and said, “Gentleman, forget 20th-century history for today. This is 21st-century history.”
He turned on the TV, and we watched in both horror and disbelief as the events unfolded. I remember some of my classmates already starting to conjecture about whom they thought was responsible. Some immediately brought up Al-Qaeda. Although they were right about the particular terrorist organization, I also distinctly remember hearing the murmurings of instant vengeance and Islamophobia sprinkled in to their analyses.
Today, Pope Francis attended a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. He paid his respects to the victims of the attacks, and met with leaders from myriad religious backgrounds.
It’s part and parcel of the pope’s approach to our wounded world. Yes, we need to look to the past and mourn the human losses, the devastation of terrorism and all violence. But we also need to look to the future and mend the division that exacerbates and leads to future violence.
Communicating well with and understanding people of other faiths is vital to the healing process and the promise of a safer world. May Pope Francis’ example lead us and our political leaders to embrace peace instead of retribution.
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Love Is Our Mission: Pope Francis in America is a rich collection drawn from Catholic News Service photographers and journalists to be released October 30. It will be a keepsake for anyone interested in the papal visit. Learn more about the book, and about Pope Francis’ visit, by clicking here.
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