Forgiveness and Evil


Convivium, 1 November 2018

Confronted by mass murder that is also sacrilege, our faith is both tested and reconciled, Father Raymond de Souza writes.

A shorter column this week – perhaps a welcome development – in the hope that you might spend some time reading about others.

What is to be said in the face of the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh? I have less to offer myself but have been comforted by what other voices have offered.

One has to look a bit beyond the dominant news headlines, in which even murder and mourning in America’s current circumstance are interpreted in political categories. It is frightening to see an unraveling taking place, such that even the rituals – sadly, it happens frequently enough in the United States that there are rituals – of response to mass shootings no longer seem to hold.

So I was grateful to see yesterday my colleague Hannah Marazzi’s interview with Rabbi Reuven Bulka, one of Canada’s most prominent rabbis. He helped us to find some of the proper words at time like this.

I would add that the massacre in Pittsburgh was not only a matter of anti-Semitism, akin to other violence motivated by racial or ethnic hatreds. When perpetrated inside a synagogue, against people gathered in worship, it becomes an act of sacrilege. That’s why the Tree of Life massacre – like the 2015 massacre in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, or the 2010 massacre at the Syriac Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad, Iraq – is different than, say, the massacre in Las Vegas just a year ago during a music festival. The human suffering is no less from one to the other, but there is an added dimension when the holiness of the place, the holiness of God Himself, is traduced.

So, it is right to look at such times for the consolations that one expects from God, from the community of the faithful who gathered in those houses of worship.

It has not been lacking.

Continue reading at Convivium: