NEW YORK:Pope Francis on Friday visited the 9/11 Memorial in New York, where he prayed and laid a white rose at one of the reflecting pools, before he is to lead a multi-faith service for peace.
It might seem absurd to categorize a leader of a billion-plus member Christian religion as radical because he addresses issues like drastic income equality and institutionalized poverty, but that is the world we live in and Pope Francis’ message has struck a chord with many Christians and non-Christians alike, which makes him risky to the status quo.
“This is where loved ones lost their lives, and this is the way we are going to honor them by having someone who is holy, closest to God, Pope Francis, come here and bless this site I couldn’t be prouder to share this memorial and museum with him”, she said. “The pope realized the pain this place has caused in our country and the memories we have of 9/11”.
He said he feels hope by the many religions represented at the event, “I trust that our presence together will be a powerful sign of our shared desire to be a force for reconciliation, peace and justice in this community and throughout the world”. Of course, the world does not need another policy wonk; it needs a religious leader.
Shortly before the service, Cardinal Timothy Dolan accompanied the pope along the border of one of the memorial pools, and Francis placed a single flower on one of the slabs containing the names of the victims of the attacks.
CARMINE GALASSO/THE RECORD Pope Francis views burned Bible found in twin towers wreckage during September 11 Memorial tour with former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He lauded New York City for coming together as a community following the destruction. We ask you in your goodness to give eternal light and peace to all who died here: the heroic first-responders, our firefighters, police officers, emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel, along with all the innocent men and women who were victims of this tragedy simply because their work or service brought them here on September 11, 2001.
“He waved at me”, cried Juana Comfort, 66, a New York City resident. “He took my children to Mass more than I did”. “But one of the things we do well is honest and fruitful interreligious friendships”.
“With love and affection, we recall the victims of the 9/11 attacks”.
Khalid Latif said that “intolerance and ignorance fueled those who attacked this place”. The water we see flowing towards that empty pit reminds us of all those lives which fell prey to those who think that destruction, tearing down, is the only way to settle conflicts.
Dozens of religious leaders from Jewish, Muslim, Greek Orthodox, Hindu and other faiths sat in chairs behind the pope during the service, which took place in Foundation Hall, a somber setting filled with 9/11 artifacts. Bishop William Murphy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre also was in attendance.
Fr John says the Ground Zero memorial is a very significant place because of what happened in 2001 and it continues to be “an important part of the American psyche”.
The memorial opened on the 10-year anniversary of the attacks.
Following the pope’s remarks, the Young People’s Chorus of New York City sang “Let There be Peace on Earth”, with some of the lyrics changed to be inclusive. At about 1 p.m. he had returned to Papal Nuncio’s residence.
The pope stood there alone for more than a minute, occasionally lifting his eyes to look out at the expanse.
The Vatican later said his declaration that the environment itself has rights was a new development in the church’s social teaching.