Media and Communications Office
Archbishop Peter A Comensoli has written a letter to the Muslim community in Melbourne in response to the terror attack in New Zealand on Friday. At least 50 died after gunman opened fire during Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch. Read the full letter to the Secretary of the Board of Imams and the President of the Islamic Council of Victoria below.
Dear Sheikh Mohamadu Nawas Saleem, Mr Mohammed Mohideen, and all our Muslim Brothers and Sisters,
On behalf of the whole Catholic community of Melbourne, I wish to express our deeply felt shock at the massacre of 50 members of the Muslim community at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque in Christchurch during the Friday prayer services, and at the wounding of many more.
In our Churches around Melbourne on Sunday, local Catholic communities offered prayers for the families of the victims and the members of the Mosques, and indeed for the whole Muslim Community in New Zealand and Australia.
We condemn this senseless and vicious act. We condemn the hatred of migrants, which is a betrayal of the hospitality to the stranger. We condemn the hatred of the Muslim people, which is a repudiation of the family of Abraham. We condemn the racism, which is a repudiation of the dignity of all human beings created in the image of God.
You are our brothers and sisters.
Yesterday, in the Catholic calendar, was the feast of St Patrick of Ireland. 1600 years ago, he wrote a prayer which teaches Christians to see the face of Jesus in every person in need:
Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
The Catholic Church in Melbourne stands in solidarity with the Muslims of Melbourne and around Australia who are deeply distressed at this act of violence, and who may feel like strangers in their own land, and who may fear for their safety.
We are fully committed to developing good relations with our Muslim brothers and sisters and a community where every member, especially the most vulnerable, are assured of safety and peace.
We have recently taken the concrete act of introducing guidelines for interfaith education in the hundreds of Catholic primary and secondary schools in the Archdiocese. Through the implementation of these guidelines, under the title of ‘Welcoming Each Other’, we hope to ensure that our students develop an attitude that welcomes people of all faiths and traditions, for the sake of the future of our society.
May it please Almighty God that these events may lead to a time of frank self-examination and change in our society. May we work together, through dialogue and education, to ensure that solidarity and love will replace hatred and division.
Yours sincerely in the Lord,
Most Rev Peter A Comensoli
Archbishop of Melbourne