[ACNS] Church services and vigils have been held throughout the world in response to the terror attacks on Friday in Paris which killed at least 129 people. As they were taking place, Anglican leaders continued to reflect on the atrocities.
“The sorrow in Paris is heart-breaking and the evil of those who planned and perpetrated the Paris atrocities is beyond measure or words,” the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said. “We weep with the victims and with the bereaved.
“France is deeply wounded but will prevail with that courage and strength she has always shown. Wherever there is such wickedness Christ suffers afresh in the suffering of every human being. In solidarity let us be the source of consolation.
“The violence of this evil group brings terror to all, including in the Muslim world where its cowardly acts are opposed by many. This is a global and generational struggle against an evil cult that chooses death and fear. We choose life and hope, to overcome their hate with the power of God's love.
“In solidarity across all faiths and none, and with all human beings, rather than in the victimisation of any, we will find the way to defeat the demonic curse of terrorism. Christians are called, like Jesus, to stand with the suffering and broken and to oppose evil and fear with all their strength.”
The Bishop of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, the Rt Revd Pierre W Whalon, said, as part of a longer thoughtful commentary on the situation: “We need to see that loving the enemy who can do such things to us is not just vapid idealism. The whole point of the Christian story is summed up thus: ‘While we were yet his enemies, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5: 6-10). In other words, God shows love for us precisely by putting off the divine power that we crave.
“The day after this heinous attack, we may wish for God to come down and wipe out our enemies. Instead, Christ on the cross, completely powerless at the last, shows us that it is only love that can overcome hatred, evil and even death.
“Jesus asks us to follow his way, as love is the only power in this world that can literally and figuratively save us. He certainly did not ‘enable’ his enemies. In the short term, we need the police and the military, and we should be grateful that Parisians have such courageous and professional forces. They and the firefighters and emergency medical teams need our prayers and deserve our support. Not to mention the wounded and dead, and their families and friends.”
The Primate of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Archbishop Mouneer Anis, also wrote a considered opinion following the attacks. In it, he said: “Perhaps it is in the darkest hours that the light shines out the brightest, that the vision of the kingdom is clearest, no matter how distant. The path to that kingdom is never so clearly laid, but the vision is there. It is a vision of all nations streaming forward, all division cast aside, all conflict passed, Jew and Gentile together.
“So today I mourn for all the victims of this unthinkable violence. I mourn for their family. And their family is this world. Every last person is their neighbour. Every last person is a victim of this tragedy – violence is indeed an evil which harms both victim and perpetrator.
“I pray for the citizens of Paris, for the country of France, for Europe, for every country the world over, as they bow their heads from the weight of death and useless violence as it continues to visit itself upon brother after brother, sister after sister. I pray for healing, for forgiveness, and for hope in the hearts of the affected families.
“Wrong has been done, and there is not one person on this world who is not a victim of it.”
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said: "Our shock and sadness today must lead us to pray for all those affected by this evil and senseless violence. Our hearts go out to those bereaved or injured. We must pray earnestly that God will lead us into his paths of peace, resisting evil, and looking for every opportunity to build bridges of friendship and understanding in our communities today. And we need to remember that “to respond to violence with violence increases darkness on a night already void of stars,” he said, quoting Martin Luther King Jr.