Newtown, Boston and the call of the church in a culture of violence

Bishop, assistant bishops of New York issue pastoral letter

Posted Apr 18, 2013

[Diocese of New York] On Monday we were rocked out of our peace once again, as too often, by the report of another eruption of senseless violence and the suffering of people whom we recognize as our own brothers and sisters.  That these bombings took place at an event which celebrates the brilliance of the human spirit and the triumph of physical excellence underscored the betrayal of our common humanity and the denial of the incarnation we share with Jesus inherent in any act of violence against another.  That this assault added another young child to the roster of the children who have fallen to the destructive impulses of others is heartbreaking.  And indeed, our hearts break.  As we grieve with — and pray for — the people of Boston, and the suffering everywhere, we are reminded of the deep connection we have with one another as members of the Risen Body of Christ. We see in our own hands, and in one another’s, the marks of the nails which pierced Jesus’ own hands at Golgotha.

Yet, we who stood with the women at the foot of the cross on Good Friday are the same who followed the disciples into the empty tomb on Easter.  We dare to believe, against much evidence, that life does indeed triumph over death, and as we watch in horror and sorrow the suffering in Boston, it is finally in our Risen Lord that we put our trust and in whom we have our hope.  Indeed we say as we believe:  Alleluia, Christ is Risen!  And nothing in Newtown or Boston can nullify that truth.  So it is to the Risen One that we commend the souls of the dead and pray for healing and well-being for the dozens of wounded.

But prayers for the fallen and pastoral care to the bereaved, while central to our call as Christians, cannot be all we have to offer a broken world.  It may be some time before we know who did this terrible thing and why.  For that reason, it is premature to link this event with any other or to speculate about the reasons for this.  But it is not too early to say that it is an affront to the lives of freedom, justice and peace that Jesus calls us and invites us to live that we are made to carry out those lives against the background din of guns, bombs and the sorrows of the bereaved.  It is an offense against the Prince of Peace that we are required to accept some level of violence as the price of our common life. Rather, the church must explore every avenue to witness to an aching, watching world those principles of life, peace and freedom which we received from and learned from a loving God.

It is time for us to pay close attention to what we take for granted.  It is time for us to look within ourselves for those seeds of violence which are tearing our people apart, and repent of it.  It is time for us to guard our hearts.  This weekend Bishop Dietsche and Archdeacon Parnell will join leaders of other dioceses in Baltimore to in



The Right Reverend Andrew ML Dietsche, Bishop of New York


The Right Reverend Andrew D Smith, Assistant Bishop


The Right Reverend Chilton AR Knudsen, Assistant Bishop