As has been remarked in many places, yesterday saw the 10th anniversary of the horrendous attacks of 9.11.2001.
In the lead-up to the commemoration in NYC, news was made about the lack of clergy during the day; for it was argued that to include one, one had to include all and it was a violation of Church/state separation to include clergy members.
I have thought a great deal about this question in the ten years since 9/11; and have a few thoughts to share as to how we have arrived at this position where clergy are now devisive figures in the realm of the secular society.
In the eyes of the secular cutlure, what caused these attacks? At the most basic level, it was a religious fundamentalism. Sure, as Catholics, we recognize that it was an Islmacist, Jihaddist, Fundamentalism that was at the core of it all, but to the eyes of a secular cutlure, there is no difference between the terrorists who perpetrated this crime, the members of Westboro Baptist Church who shamefully protest at Military funerals, and Catholics who stand praying outside of abortion mills. In the eyes of a completely secular culture, anyone who takes their faith seriously ultimately leads to flying planes into buildings.
We know it is not so, so how do we convince the world otherwise?
First, we must pray, for Christians are to be noted as a prayerful people. We pray for the victims, first and foremost, that our ever-merciful Father will grant them rest in the life to come. We pray for the responders who are a very visual embodiment of Jesus' statement: 'No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for a friend.' We pray for our country, that she may be healed of the deep wounds that continue to bleed. Perhaps the greatest challenge: we pray for those who perpetrated this crime that their hearts might be changed from anger and violence to peace and justice, cooperation instead of conflict.
We must also act, for our faith demands it of us. We act in charity to those who have lost, we must not stop doing so. We act in reparation to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice that all might know the love we have for God and He has for us. We act in love, that we might draw others to the Truth.
Only in Christ will true peace and justice reign, and that only by members of His Body being willing witnesses of His Truth to the world.