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Archbishop reminds shocked nation that good overcomes grief

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference President Archbishop Francis Carroll yesterday assured those grieving or anxiously awaiting news following Saturday's Bali bombing that "life is stronger than death".

"On behalf of the Catholic Church in Australia, I extend ... our sympathy and the assurance of our prayers. The Church's health and counselling services will be readily available to those who may have any need," he said. "I invite Catholics to attend their local churches and participate in prayers, in solidarity with those who are suffering. I suggest that next Sunday be observed as a national day of prayer and remembrance."

He stressed that the "wanton, pre-meditated attack on innocent people in Bali fills all people of goodwill with shock and dismay", conceding that the "right to defend innocent people against terrorism" that "must be exercised within moral and legal limits".

But Archbishop Carroll stressed that violence "does not have to be met with more violence". Respect, understanding and dialogue, he said, "prepare the way for peace built on justice".

"In the face of this tragedy, we draw a message of hope from the Christian Gospel," he said. "Jesus assures us that good overcomes evil and life is stronger than death."

Meanwhile Brisbane's Archbishop John Bathersby requested Catholics in his Archdiocese to pray at weekend Masses for the victims and the families of the Bali tragedy, and for "the enlightenment of those evil persons who seek to achieve political results from the slaughter of innocent people".

Archbishop Bathersby extended his "very deepest sympathy to those families who have suffered the loss of their dear ones".

And in Sydney, St Mary's Cathedral Dean Monsignor Tony Doherty invited the community to yesterday's special lunchtime mass.

"Today the face of massive human tragedy has shown itself in our nation and in our city in a quite unprecedented form," he said. "The community of St Mary's want to stand with those who are paralysed with shock and grief at the mindless death of so many young men and women."

"During these times of desperate uncertainty when reports from the mayhem that is Kuta, are confused and indefinite, we as a group in Sydney gather and pray with those who have members of the families, and people they love who are travelling in Bali."

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference/Archdiocese of Brisbane/Archdiocese of Sydney


The leaders of Australia's religious congregations last night offered their deepest sympathy to the families and loved ones of those people killed and maimed in the Bali bombing.

"Our prayers are for those who were wrenched so violently from this life," said the statement. "May God comfort and fortify the bereaved in their anguish and sorrow at the sudden loss of their loved ones. We pray also for the recovery of all those people who are left physically and psychologically scarred by this terrible act."

But the leaders warned against responding with violence.

"We abhor the violence of this act, its perpetrators and its evil intentions. As we grapple with issues of justice we call on our leaders and people to be informed by the lessons of history - that ongoing violence can only beget more violence and that the cycle must be broken by renewed efforts to dialogue."

And in a statement on the Vincentian website, Fr Tim Williams urged Australians to spare a thought for the untold suffering caused to Indonesians by the bombing.

"While we grieve for those Australians killed or injured in the weekend bombings in Bali, let's remember also the Indonesian people who are suffering as a result of this atrocity and who are struggling to deal with the implications of religious extremism."

Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes/Vincentians Australia


Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano yesterday issued a strong message of condemnation from the Holy Father, in the form of a telegram to the Apostolic Nuncio in Jakarta.

"Such a merciless act of violence cannot represent the passage towards a just and civil society, built on the respect for the inviolable dignity of every human life".

The Cardinal said that the Holy Father was "profoundly shocked by the news of the terrible attack in Bali in which many were killed and injured". He conveyed the Pope's assurance of his prayers for the victims.

German Bishops Conference President Cardinal Karl Lehman also sent a message of condolence to his Indonesian counterpart.

"Scarcely a word is able to do to express the pain, that we feel with you," he said. "In these heavy hours, may God give [and fellow Indonesians] to you the certainty that you are not alone".

The Indonesian Bishops themselves strongly condemned the blasts that claimed more than 185 lives.

"From the depth of our hearts, we reject the shameful act done by those who planned and executed the bomb attack," the Bishops' Conference of Indonesia said in a statement issued on Sunday. "The act was truly shameful because the attack seems to have been methodically prepared, suddenly executed and caused death to people."

The bishops also urged the Indonesian government immediately to launch a manhunt for those responsible.


Pope sends condolences to victims of Bali terrorist attack (Independent Catholic News)
Terror on our doorstep: Mass to ease the pain (The Advertiser - payment required)
Beware Christ's zealots as they fan the flames (Chris McGillion, Sydney Morning Herald)
In God's Name? (Vatican Radio audio report)
Australian Muslims outraged by 'crime against God' (Sydney Morning Herald)

15 Oct 2002