DATE: July 26, 2016
RE: Terrorist attack at Church of Saint Etienne-du-Rouvray, France
FROM: Bishop William Murphy, bishop, Diocese of Rockville Centre
Before going to chapel in the morning I usually check ANSA, the Italian version of AP. There it was, another terrorist attack this time in a parish church of St. Etienne du Rouvray in the northern French city of Rouen. Two men shouting â€œDaeshâ€, the Arabic word for ISIS and â€œAllah ak Barâ€. They slit the throat of the priest as he was celebrating Mass, wounded three, one of whom is in grave condition and took four hostages, 2 religious sisters and 2 lay faithful, all attending Mass. ISIS has claimed responsibility for two of their â€œsoldiersâ€ and once again France has become the victim of hatred, violence and rejection of any persons or groups ISIS labels as their enemies.
The President of France, M. Hollande with the Minister of the Interior, M. Cazaneuve, went to Rouen and were on the scene this morning. The Holy Father in Poland condemned the action and called for prayer. The Archbishop, also in Poland for World Youth Day, has returned to his people.
Every decent human being can do none other than condemn these atrocities and support all those, armed forces, police and international forces that protect the innocent. That is normal. As a Catholic I recoil from several things. First of all seeing an international network of terrorist thugs able to destroy the innocent at will is bad enough. But they try to cloak their lawless violence under an appeal to their religion which makes a mockery of all those Muslims who are true adherents of their faith. Second as a Catholic I recoil at seeing a parish church turned into a killing field. Yet that has been happening all across the Middle East now for many years. Third I wonder about the irony that these morally bankrupt leaders of Daesh look on Christianity as an integral component of western â€œcivilizationâ€ when Europe stands today as a denier that Christianity is even part of their heritage. Yet if I am honest I have to admit that the secularist model of Europe without Christian roots is exactly what is happening here in my own country. Even the mention of God is challenged in our country today. â€œProgressivesâ€ and secularists announce that if religion disagrees with their agenda, then the religion needs to be changed. And it goes on and on.
Before I say my rosary for the victims at St. Etienne Church may I add two things, one factual, the other more important. Bret Stephens in todayâ€™s Wall Street Journal (July 26) challenges us all when he asks â€œIs Europe Helpless?â€ and suggests that a civilization that believes in nothing will ultimately submit to anything. In short the challenge we face is a moral one. Because I believe that is factually true, I close with the more important invitation. Please join me as I say my rosary because without a sense of God and the redemption of His Son, our union in the Holy Spirit which makes us as Church witnesses to the true meaning of life, given to us through Mary, our Mother, we too will end up believing in nothing and submitting to whatever is the predominant power of the day.