Since close to half of the residents of metropolitan New York are Catholics, it was inevitable that the response to a tragedy as great as the fall of the World Trade Center towers would often be expressed in the language of their faith.
It was expressed in the shrines that sprang up immediately after the attack on September 11, 2001 – quickly assembled collections of candles, statues of angels and saints, mingled with photos of the victims.
It was expressed in the haunting images – of the lifeless body of the beloved Fire Department chaplain Father Mychal Judge, of steel crosses amid the twisted wreckage.
It was expressed through the Catholic-tinged cultures of the New York City police and fire departments and in the funeral Masses of the rescue workers who were killed.
It was expressed through a mayor, a man who once had considered the Catholic priesthood, as he found words for unspeakable losses: “more than we can bear.”
It was expressed in the music of Bruce Springsteen, an artist who, as Father Andrew Greeley has written, exemplifies the Catholic imagination. “Come on up for the rising,” Springsteen sang. And: “May your faith give us faith/May your hope give us hope/May your love give us love.” [Update: A song that Ronan Tynan performed during a concert before the papal Mass in Yankee Stadium.]
And it was expressed by Pope Benedict XVI:
“…God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.
God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.”