Catholics should pray that France will continue to show “moderation, temperance and control” in response to the terrorist attacks in their city, the cardinal archbishop of Paris has said.
In a letter to Parisian Catholics published on the website of the Catholic newspaper La Croix, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois wrote: “This week our country, and in particular our city, has been the scene of unprecedented acts of violence and barbarity. For us, for many years, death and war were always elsewhere, even though French soldiers were engaged in various countries trying to build peace. Some have paid with their lives.
“But violent death has suddenly appeared among us. France, and even beyond our borders, are in a state of shock.
“The majority of our fellow citizens have lived this situation as a call to recover certain fundamental values of our republic, such as freedom of religion or freedom of opinion.
“The spontaneous gatherings of these past few days have been marked by great contemplation, without a show of hatred or violence. The sadness of grief, and the belief that we all have something to defend, unite the French.
“A cartoon, even if it is distasteful, a critique even if it is gravely unjust, cannot be put on the same level as murder. Freedom of the press, whatever the cost, is the sign of a mature society.
“That men born in our country, our fellow citizens, can think that the only just response to mockery or an insult is the death of their authors places grave questions before our society.
“That French Jews are once again paying a price for the troubles that are agitating our national community only reinforces their gravity.
“We also honour the police officers who have died while carrying out their work.
“I invite the Catholics of Paris to pray to the Lord for the victims of the terrorists, for their spouses, their children and their families.
“We pray also for our country, that the moderation, temperance and control that have been displayed so far will be confirmed in the weeks and months ahead and that no one will give in to the easy identification of a few fanatics with an entire religion. And we also pray for the terrorists, who discover the truth of God’s judgment.
“We ask for the grace to be peacemakers. We must never despair of peace, if we build justice.”