Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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A Witness to Peace

Sep 28, 2015

911multifaithserviceThe visit of Pope Francis to Cuba and the United States was itself a witness to peace. And on Friday, September 25, it was my honor to represent the Metropolitan New York Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America at a service of solemn grace and power. I know many from our synod watched as this multi-religious gathering with the Holy Father was live-streamed. It was a remarkably moving event and a symbol of the wonderful religious diversity of our metropolitan community. Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim, Jewish and a host of other religious leaders participated.


The six-day visit to the United States was a holy time. This was even more strongly felt as we gathered in a holy place, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center. There was a solemn spirit made more palpable by his presence. I did not have opportunity to greet Pope Francis personally, though he passed five feet from me as he exited the museum, smiled and raised his hand in greeting.


I have been captivated by his humility, humor, and humanity. His love for all people of all religions (and no religion) is clear. His affection for the young, the differently-abled, the variety of human beings, the creation, the victims of abuse in many forms, and his courage to speak truth to power was amazing. The simple act of his entrance into the museum was moving in itself and his words to the assembly offered a call to move beyond mere tolerance to respect for one another. It made me grateful for the honor of serving as your bishop in this remarkable time and place.


The Holy Father offered a prayer remembering those who died on September 11 here in New York, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville. He prayed for those who continue to suffer from injuries and illness, grief and mourning. And he prayed for all of us: for comfort, strength, hope, courage, peace, and love. To say it was a moving service is an understatement.


My prayer is that the Pope’s will give us the will to work more closely together for the common good of all people and all creation.    


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