Remarks of Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, at the Interreligious Prayer Service in Remembrance of the Victims at the Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh
Let me begin by expressing my deep sorrow to the Jewish community over the victims of the horrific act of violence at Tree of Life Synagogue last Saturday in Pittsburgh. Anger, grief and shock overcame me as I heard this terrible news. These Jews, elder brothers and sisters in faith to those of us who are Christian, were targeted as they gathered to praise the Almighty and celebrate new life. On behalf of the Catholic community of Chicago, I say to the loved ones of those who were murdered, we grieve with you, we weep with you, and we pray that the Almighty brings you healing at this time of unfathomable anguish.
The Tree of Life Synagogue massacre is not merely one more appalling example of anti-Semitism in our country and in our world. With this attack a line has been crossed. We need to act, first by naming the evil of anti-Semitism and doing everything in our power to eradicate it—but we also need to call out the conditions and rhetoric that support it. This twisted ideology has never been, is not, and will never be acceptable, and it is incumbent upon people of all faiths and none to stand against it.
We must re-commit ourselves to providing our schools and places of worship with the resources they need to see anti-Semitism for what it is: not only an affront to the human dignity of our Jewish brothers and sisters, but also a threat to the peace and mutual trust without which communities collapse. Nothing short of a systemic commitment to eradicating all forms of prejudice and hate will reverse the rising tide of prejudice in our day.
No one should live in fear because of the color of their skin, the country of their origin, or the faith they profess — least of all when they gather to express that faith. Not in America, not anywhere. We must remain vigilant. Our passion for justice must never waver, even when acts of hate-fueled violence start to seem routine.
Sadly, our nation in these days is beset with a divisive spirit that threatens the great promise of the American experiment. Our public discourse is marred by vicious rhetoric designed to demean and devalue those deemed different. These corrosive ways of speaking incubate hate. But a hatred of difference has no place here. We know that America draws its strength from its diversity. We know the America that welcomed your forbears and mine. We know the America of hospitality and hope. Take courage. That America isn’t gone. It is here now, as we gather in remembrance and stand against hate.
We must seek and create places where dialogues about race, religion and politics can become fruitful, not fearful. The stakes are high, as those being laid to rest in Pittsburgh and their families can tearfully attest to. Let us call upon one another to cease vilifying those who think differently, speak differently, and worship differently.
Finally, I urge all of us to pause for a moment and to think about how all of this is impacting our children. We adults need to stand shoulder to shoulder and model for our young people the path of peace and partnership. Let us teach our children to walk in the path of love that our religious traditions, and all people of goodwill, strive to follow— we need to do this together. We need to do this for them.
This is my prayer today.