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September 10, 2002

STATEMENT OF ANTHONY CARDINAL BEVILACQUA
ARCHBISHOP OF PHILADELPHIA
REGARDING FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF SEPTEMBER 11TH ATTACKS

One year ago today, we watched in shock and disbelief as the unimaginable events in New York, Washington and western Pennsylvania unfolded before our eyes. Even though a year has passed, the sheer horror of what happened on September 11th 2001 still sometimes seems unreal. But it did happen. We pray still for those who died, for the families of the victims, for those still suffering from the attack.

At the time of the attacks, some asked, "Where was God?" As I said a year ago --on that day and many times after September 11th it wasn't God who committed that evil, it was the absence of God. It was the absence of God in men who committed the evil. We can see the presence of God in the good that occurred that day, for example in the heroism of the rescue workers or the passengers of Flight 93. God never lets evil triumph and that should be a comfort to us.

Much good has come from that day. In spite of the vicious and cruel assault upon our nation, we have seen the very best of the American spirit: a spirit of courage, self-sacrifice and hope which is undaunted in the face of threat. We do still feel vulnerable on this anniversary, something we're not used to feeling. So many people flocked to churches, temples and mosques after the attacks. People continue to go to church in greater numbers than they did a year ago. This anniversary is a good time to ask yourself, "Does God still have a prominent place in my life?"

The attacks left a scar on the psyche of the American people that will last for a long time. Since the tragedy, people realize the fragility of their lives. They realize that the priority of life is not to have wealth or pleasures but instead to help each other, to be kinder and more compassionate.

I pray that family members who have an empty place where a loved one was just a year ago find comfort in God who loves us so very much. I pray that God will guide the country's leaders and give them wisdom as they chart the future path of this nation. I pray for our service men and women who are fighting for the world's freedom as well as for police, firefighters and rescue workers who risk their lives to protect us every day. Immediately after the attacks, generosity of spirit pervaded the country. I pray that people realize that we are brothers and sisters in one human family under the fatherhood of God.

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