[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] Two bishops responsible for Anglican and Episcopal churches in Europe have responded to Friday’s deadly shooting attack in Munich. Nine people were killed and 16 others injured by 18-year-old student David Ali Sonboly, who shot people near a McDonalds restaurant in the city’s Olympia shopping centre. Sonboly then killed himself before he could be captured by the 2,300 armed police deployed to the city as the incident occurred. He had an interest in mass killings and is not thought to be linked to terror groups.
Bishop Pierre Whalon, bishop-in-charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, part of the US-based Episcopal Church, wrote a heart-felt lament in response to the tragedy, in which he said that he was “sick and tired” of having to respond to such atrocities. Since the attack in Munich a failed Syrian asylum seeker killed himself and injured 12 other people when he detonated a bomb at a music festival in Ansbach; and days before-hand a boy attacked passengers on a train at Würzburg with an axe.
“Do you not hear the cries of your children, O God?,” Bishop Whalon wrote. “Have you turned a deaf ear to our petitions? Let my cry come to you, O Lord! How long? How much longer must this so-called Islamic State continue to exist? When will you bring Boko Haram and all the other imitators to an end? What about the persecutors and the persecuted elsewhere in the world? In India and Indonesia. In Pakistan and Thailand and Myanmar. How many more million Congolese are going to die? How long, O Lord, how long?!”
He continued: “Show us your love and mercy again. Please, I don’t want to write more reflections like this. And come to our aid. Give us courage to hope. Strengthen our faith. Empower us to overcome fear. Enable us to transform this world you have given us. To stanch the endless flow of blood. To give hope to the hopeless and to care for the helpless. To let no one, including our very selves, stand in the way of peace.”
Anglican churches on the European mainland belong mainly to the US-based Episcopal Church’s Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, or to the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe. In Germany, churches from both provinces have a common life in the Council of Anglican-Episcopal Churches in Germany.
The Suffragan Bishop of the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe, Bishop David Hamid, responded to the shooting by writing to the Revd Steven Smith, Rector of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Munich, to express his “horror and disbelief that the inhabitants of yet another European city were under attack.”
He said: “May I, on behalf of your brother and sister Anglicans from the Church of England congregations on the continent, express our deep sorrow at these recent killings of at least nine persons.
“This Sunday in our services we will pray for the victims and for all who have been injured, and for all who mourn the death of their loved ones and friends. We pray that God will strengthen all who serve and minister to those affected, including you and your colleague priests and pastors in Munich.
“We pray for the German authorities as they continue their investigation and for faith communities that they may draw together and not apart as a result of this atrocity.”