The Parliament of the World’s Religions extends its deepest sympathy to the Coptic Community in Egypt – and wherever it gathers across the globe – for the tragic, hateful, and senseless loss of life at the St. Peter and St. Paul Church in Cairo on Sunday, December 11, 2016.
We grieve especially for the families of the victims who were mostly women and children seated on one side of the church.
Their brutal deaths, along with the injuries to the 49 others worshipers, can be attributed to a single bomber with assistance from associates. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed wider responsibility for the dastardly act.
But the still broader cause, we must recognize, is any collection of religious beliefs that instills, encourages, and justifies hate and violence.
Those hateful and violent beliefs may have a long record in the history of humankind in many of our religious traditions, although they certainly not the dominant strains of those traditions.
Yet it seems that they are on the rise in our current age, with extreme hatred and bloody violence directed especially against minorities, as was the case in Cairo.
Wherever we live, whatever our religious convictions, we must not allow ourselves to become numb, complacent, or conceding to a new normal of intolerance, animosity, and aggression. That is especially the case for religious and spiritual minorities of whatever faith tradition and however much or little media attention is given to their plight.
Instead, people of faith across the world are called upon to stand in solidarity with any who suffer religious persecution and give a strong, clear and united voice against those who pervert and bring dishonor and blasphemy to their own spiritual heritage.
The Coptic Church of St. Mark in Jersey City showed the way when it called on the faithful of their tradition, despite all their pain and suffering, to “rise above the earthly feelings” and draw deeply on their own Christian teachings of “love and forgiveness.”
As we join in sadness with our sisters and brothers in the Coptic Church, the Parliament also renews its commitment to cultivate the kind of harmony among religious and spiritual communities that will overcome hate and violence and lead to a more compassionate and peaceful world.