Australia's Catholic bishops have joined with people throughout the nation in prayer and sympathy for all those affected by the Martin Place cafe siege in Sydney that ended today with the deaths of three people.
Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said in a statement: “We pray for all who were held hostage during the siege, especially those who tragically lost their lives. May the surviving hostages quickly heal and find new peace in their lives.
Archbishop Hart said the bishops were united “in prayer in support of the families and friends who are today grieving the loss of their loved ones. We thank and pray for the men and women of the police and emergency services who selflessly placed themselves in harm’s way during this tragic event to save the lives of fellow Australians,” he said.
“We also thank and pray for medical staff and community leaders who gave so willingly, patiently and courageously to manage the siege and bring it to the best possible conclusion.”
Archbishop Hart expressed his faith that all Australians would be united in condemning the tragic event, and that they would join together as people of goodwill to support each other.
“As we prepare to celebrate the joy of Christmas, let us pursue enduring peace and understanding,” he said. “Affected as we are by such awful loss and hurt to our fellow Australians, let us reach out with the power of love to bring peace, healing and goodwill to all.”
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher celebrated a special Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral, and Sydney archdiocese invited the people of Sydney to attend “to join in prayer for peace, strength and healing after this tragic event”.
The Most Rev Peter A Comensoli, Bishop of Broken Bay said in a letter to the diocese:
Today our communities are coming to terms with the deep pain and loss that remains at the end of the terrorising and tragic circumstances that have occurred at Martin Place.
My heartfelt prayers go out to the families of those who have lost their lives; to those injured; to those that have suffered unimaginable anguish; and to those who have worked selflessly to bring about the best outcome in this sad and violent situation.
I am conscious, too, of the distress this event has created for the people of the city of Sydney, and in the wider Australian community. May I assure you that our Catholic community stands with all our neighbours at this time, and especially applauds the various displays of interfaith solidarity.
In this Advent season, as our communities look with expectation to the coming of the Christ- child, may we hold close to our hearts those whose lives have been forever changed.
I pray that in the shadow of this tragedy we remain committed to the cause of justice and peace, supported by healing and understanding.