[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, has said that Sunday night’s shooting at a mosque in Quebec has left “a neighbourhood traumatised, and a nation horrified.” Six people were killed and others were injured when gunmen opened fire in the Grande Mosquée de Québec in the Sainte-Foye area of the city as around 50 Muslims were saying prayers at around 8.00 pm EST on Sunday 29 January (1.00 am, Monday 30 January GMT).
“My heart, indeed the hearts of all people of good will, goes out to all Muslims across Canada as they struggle with this terrible attack,” Archbishop Hiltz said. “We hold in our prayers those who have died, for their families and for their imams who care for them in their grief.
“We also pray for those who have been injured and for those tending them. We remember too the police, and all others whose daily work is to ‘serve and protect’.
“At moments like this, people of faith must stand together in solidarity for those values common to our respective religious traditions: the adoration of God, the respect we owe one another as fellow human beings, and the care with which we tend the earth, our common home.”
The local Anglican bishop, the coadjutor Bishop of Quebec, Bruce Myers, has said that he grieves with his Muslim neighbours following the attack, which the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, confirmed was a “terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge.”
Bishop Bruce is currently in Canterbury, England, attending the annual Anglican Communion training conference for newly ordained bishops. He took to Twitter to express his concern, in both English and French, saying: “Whoever the perpetrator of this violence, I grieve with our Muslim neighbours in Quebec City and commit to work for peace.”
The Bishop of Montreal, Mary Irwin Gibson, is also in Canterbury. She Tweeted that “The Anglican bishops gathered for training from around the world send their sympathy and prayers for the people of Québec.”
Later, in a joint pastoral letter to the people of their respective dioceses, Bishops Bruce and Mary said that “after the initial wave of shock and grief had passed”, they – along with the other 27 bishops from across the Communion in Canterbury – “prayed for the dead, the wounded, [and] the perpetrators.”
They added: “The dean and chapter of Canterbury Cathedral want you to know that this tragedy and its victims are being held up in this 1,400-year-old place of prayer.
“Along with our grief and prayers we are called as disciples of Jesus to express our solidarity with our neighbours who are Muslim.
“We wish to express directly to our Muslim neighbours in Quebec our grief and repugnance at this brutal act of violence against another community of faith, and one in the midst of prayer. When one is attacked, we are all attacked, and our whole society is diminished.”
The bishops encouraged Anglicans in their dioceses to “seek out and participate in” the vigils and other acts of solidarity that are spontaneously emerging, “standing alongside other Christians, people of other faiths, and people of goodwill.”
In addition to the six who were killed, 19 people were injured. Five victims remain in hospital – two of them in a critical condition. All the victims were male.
A 27-year-old student at the French-language Université Laval in Quebec, Alexandre Bissonnette, has been charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder.