The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham, gave the following sermon when he celebrated the 6.00pm Mass last night in St. Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham, for the victims of the terrorist attack in the United States of America. In times of need we turn to God in prayer. We do so this evening, for our need is great. We are stunned, deeply shocked by the outrageous acts of evil that have brought sudden death to unknown thousands of people. We pray for them, for their loved ones, for all who are working to rescue and rebuild. We turn to God because God is our refuge, our strength. We are confused and shaken. God is our rock. We turn to find again our deepest foundations, the deepest truths on which we must build. The first of these truths is about God. God sees and knows all things. These atrocities happen in the sight of God. And God, in Christ, suffers as His people tear each other apart. We turn to God to receive his compassion for our broken world. We ask for strength and determination to use the free will He has given us for good and not for evil. The second truth is about ourselves. The figure of the crucified Christ, the result of violence, teaches us that in human affairs the cycle of violence leads only to death. Violence breeds violence. Legitimate self-defence is right. But wanton violence is never right. Let us pray that in these days ahead cool heads may prevail. We pray for governments worldwide and especially President Bush and his colleagues. Here in Birmingham let us unite round a profound respect for life and for each other in our diversity. The command of God that life is to be respected, upheld by all the great faiths, has been callously cast aside by ruthless terrorists. We unite in our desire to obey the command of God and to give respect to all human life, today, tomorrow and in the years ahead. We pray for all who have died. Eternal rest grant to them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.
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