WASHINGTON (September 10, 2002) -– In a statement on the eve of the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks, the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) declared that "9/11 has become a symbol of unspeakable evil and deep loss, of tremendous sacrifice and great faith and of challenges we continue to face as a people."
The statement mourned the murder of so many innocent people from so many countries, and also mourned the nation's loss of its sense of invulnerability. "Yet, our faith challenges us to live in solidarity with those around the world who face pervasive violence and insecurity," the bishops declared. "As our nation considers important questions of war and peace, our faith calls us to find the right ways to seek justice, to become peacemakers, and to protect the life and dignity of all in a world broken by terror and disrespect for human life."
The USCCB Administrative Committee, composed of almost 50 bishops from throughout the country, meets three times a year.
The statement called for a deepening of the faith and hope "that lifted us up and sustained us over the past year to continue to shape who we are and how we act in the days ahead. Firm resolve in defending innocent life and the common good against terrorism is still required of our nation," it said.
The bishops say, "We know the wounds are deep and will not be quickly or easily healed...Our faith tells us that every life is precious whether a person worked at the World Trade Center or the Pentagon or was on the flight that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania or lived in Afghanistan."
"This 'war on terrorism' should be fought with the support of the international community and primarily by non-military means, denying terrorists resources, recruits, and opportunities for their evil acts. As our nation seeks to defend our people and values, we should hold fast to our basic principles of justice, freedom, fairness, and openness in our treatment of all persons, especially vulnerable immigrants and refugees."
The Administrative Committee insisted: "As we confront evil acts, which no cause can justify, this 'war on terrorism' must not deflect us from sustained commitment to overcome poverty, conflict and injustice, particularly in the Middle East and the developing world, which can provide fertile ground in which hopelessness and terrorism thrive. Our faith calls us to seek not only a safer world, but a more just and peaceful world for all God's children."
In their statement, the bishops said they join Catholics throughout the country who have completed a nine-day novena of prayer, fasting, education, service and witness in a program, "Nine Days to 9/11," which the bishops' conference announced in mid-summer. "We ask a merciful God to receive those who have died, to heal a wounded people and to nourish our faith and our hope in the promise of the Risen Christ," they said.
Members of the Administrative Committee will join area Catholics participating in a Mass in Remembrance of the attacks of September 11, 2001. The Mass will be celebrated at noon, Wednesday, September 11, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception here. Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, will be the principal celebrant and homilist.
Full text of the statement by the USCCB Administrative Committee.