My name is Nicholas Di Marzio, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark. The Archbishop of my diocese, Theodore E. McCarrick, is also Chairman of the U.S. Catholic Conference Committee on International Policy, and I am here in representation of Archbishop McCarrick and the Committee on International Policy in particular, and the Bishops Conference in general.
It is a great pleasure to join in this Interfaith Gathering. We have come together from different religious traditions to pray for the expansion of religious freedom everywhere, but especially today, in Tibet, the homeland of His Holiness, now tragically exiled from his beloved land.
Our century has been marked by some of the greatest horrors and violations of basic human rights that humankind has even known, and some of the worst excesses have been directed against people of faith, because of their faith, because of the practice of their religious beliefs. In this century, so many millions of Jews, Christians, Buddhists and people of other faiths have known discrimination, imprisonment, torture and death. And despite how often the whole world rises up to proclaim: Never Again, still it continues.
Christians, Jews, Buddhists and other believers are this very moment suffering for their faith in many parts of our world. Our thoughts and our prayers are directed in a special way today to those believers who suffer from the policies of the Peoples Republic of China: the Catholics especially of the non-recognized underground church, the Protestants of the non-recognized house churches, but in a special way, the Buddhists of Tibet.
In a statement on religious freedom issued on Easter by Archbishop McCarrick for the U.S. Catholic Conference, he wrote: As sorrowful as is the persecution of Christians in China, the plight of the Tibetan Buddhists could hardly be more tragic: many have been driven from their land, their monasteries pillaged, precious manuscripts destroyed, and a peaceful, contemplative way of life, admired by many throughout the world, threatened with extinction.
We pray today that the God whom we all worship, by whatever name, will continue to watch over the Tibetan people, wherever they may be, and grant them an ever greater measure of peace, serenity, unity, and freedom. And we make ours this prayer spoken by Thomas Merton almost thirty years ago at an interfaith gathering in Calcutta, only weeks before his death:
Oh God, we are one with you. You have made us one with you. You have taught us that if we are open to one another, You dwell in us. Help us to preserve this openness and to fight for it with all our hearts. Help us to realize that there can be no understanding where there is mutual rejection. Oh God, we accept You, and we thank You, and we adore You, and we love You with our whole being, because our being is in Your being, our spirit is rooted in Your spirit. Fill us then with love, and let us be bound together with love as we go our diverse ways, united in this one spirit which makes You present in the world and which makes You witness to the ultimate reality that is love. Love has overcome. Love is victorious. Amen.