People attend a prayer vigil outside a mosque in London, Ontario, June 8, 2021, after four members of a Muslim family were killed. CNS photo/Carlos Osorio, Reuters

Hatred condemned in wake of attack

  • June 10, 2021

Canada’s Catholic bishops have called for condemnation by the faithful of acts of violence and extremism against all faith traditions.

In a statement released June 10 and signed by Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops president Archbishop Richard Gagnon, just days following the shocking murders of four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont., in a suspected act of hate, the bishops also called for greater understanding and respect “in order that Canadians from all backgrounds, faith traditions and cultures may live not as strangers or adversaries, but peacefully as brothers and sisters.”

“Let us all heed Pope Francis’ call, inspired by the Gospel, to be ‘peacemakers, men and women prepared to work boldly and creatively to initiate processes of healing and renewed encounter,’ ” read the statement, quoting Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti.

Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, mother Talat Afzaal, 74, and daughter Yumna Afzaal, 15, were killed June 6 when run down by a man driving a pick-up truck. Only nine-year-old Fayez Afzaal survived the attack. The 20-year-old driver is facing murder and terrorism charges

There have been increased acts of violence recently, including a “disturbing rise in harmful and violent acts against the Jewish people and Muslims,” said the CCCB executive committee’s “Statement on Recent Acts of Violence in Canada.” The bishops say they “adamantly object” to such expressions of hatred and denounced anti-Semitism, Islamaphobia “and all similar forms of extremism and violence against fellow human beings of all faith traditions.”

“These acts have included offensive slurs, prejudice, hostility and even terror claiming lives. The Catholic bishops of Canada adamantly object to all forms and expressions of hatred and they strongly denounce the recent violence,” the CCCB said.

The National Muslim Christian Liaison Committee condemned the London attack, saying it is committed to confronting Islamophobia and all forms of racism, hate and discrimination,” a statement said.

Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick of Antigonish, N.S., a CCCB representative on the committee, issued his own statement that said “as a faith community, we stand in solidarity with the Muslim community and we too call for action against Islamophobia.”

Kirkpatrick also quoted from his own June 4 pastoral letter, released just days before the London attack, that said, “If we are sisters and brothers uniquely created in God’s image, then how is it that anyone can ever disrespect another human being? How is it that we have less esteem for those of a different race, of a different gender, of a different nation, of a different language or even of a different religion?”

The Canadian Council of Churches, an umbrella organization of Christian churches, also weighed in, calling hatred and racism “an affront to human dignity.”

A multi-faith March to End Hatred was held in London June 11, beginning at the site of the Afzaal family’s deaths and ending at the London Muslim Mosque. The march was preceded by a nationwide “Virtual Dua” (a “dua” is a prayer of invocation seeking assistance from God) for the victims.

(With files from Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News)

Last modified on June 16, 2021

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