Statement Of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius And The Holy Synod Of Bishops Of The Orthodox Church In America On The Tragic Terrorist Attacks On New York And Washington, DC

To the Venerable Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:

This morning, our minds and hearts were shocked beyond belief as images of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon flashed across our television screens. As the subsequent events of this morning began to unfold – the collapse of the World Trade Center’s twin towers, the severe damage done to an entire wing of the Pentagon, the crash of an additional hijacked airliner near Pittsburgh, and the subsequent fear of further attacks against other cities and targets throughout the United States – the faith of a nation was severely tested in a manner hitherto unknown. In an instant, the security and stability which we and our fellow Americans all too often take for granted vanished, reminding us that indeed “all things are but feeble shadows and deluding dreams,” to quote Saint John of Damascus.

Even more numbing than the visual images now indelibly etched on our minds is the fact that hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent lives were lost as a result of this senseless evil. The perpetrators of these terrorist attacks blatantly revealed their complete lack of respect for the sanctity of human life, including their own. While buildings can be rebuilt and systems restored, the earthly lives of the innocent victims who perished this day cannot. And the lives of their spouses and children, their parents and friends, and, indeed, all of us who have witnessed these events surely will be changed in ways we have yet to consider or to comprehend. As the realities of today’s horrors begin to challenge the very heart of our lives and our faith, we might well join Saint John of Damascus in asking, “What earthly sweetness remains unmixed with grief? What glory stands immutable on earth?” Our faith is being tested, individually and collectively, as it has never been tested before, and we are reminded in the midst of this tragedy that it is in Our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ alone that we find the faith and the hope we need to discover, in the midst of our righteous indignation, God’s love and presence.

On behalf of the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, I appeal to the faithful of our Church and to all North Americans to turn to God at this moment, to reach out to those who are forever scarred by the tragedies of this day, to strive all the more fervently to see within all whom we encounter the living and loving image of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and to pray with renewed fervor and intensity “for the peace of the whole world” – for the peace that “passes all understanding,” for which our world today so desperately hopes and seeks.

Pray for those whose lives were cut short as a result of today’s evil deeds, as well as for those who are suffering and who will continue to suffer in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Pray for those who lost their families and friends, for those whose grief we can barely begin to imagine, and for those who will be scarred forever as a result of today’s devastation. Pray for those who in countless ways are assisting the injured and the bereaved, that Our Lord will guide them in their efforts to bring about physical, spiritual, and emotional healing. Pray for those who may be tempted to lose hope in the face of tragedy, that they may be touched by God’s mercy and compassion and the love of those who surround them. Pray for our civil authorities and leaders, that Our Lord will inspire them to do the right thing in the face of unimaginable anguish. Pray for the children of our nation who once again have been robbed of their precious innocence by witnessing such incomprehensible evils and tragedies. Pray for those who perpetrated today’s evils, asking the Lord to “make the evil be good” by His Goodness, as we pray in the Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great. And finally, let us pray for ourselves, that Our God will strengthen us to face the consequences of today’s tragedies and fill us with renewed faith and hope to abide in His love in a world which has grown cold and hard-hearted.

Our faith has been, and will continue to be, tested as a result of today’s horrible tragedies. May Our Lord use us as instruments of peace in the face of war, of love in the face of hatred, and of supreme goodness in the face of all that is evil.

With love in Jesus Christ, our only Helper in the face of adversity,

Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

And the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America:

+KYRILL, Archbishop of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania
+PETER, Archbishop of New York and New Jersey
+DMITRI, Archbishop of Dallas and the South
+HERMAN, Archbishop of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania
+NATHANIEL, Archbishop of Detroit
+JOB, Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest
+TIKHON, Bishop of San Francisco and the West
+SERAPHIM, Bishop of Ottawa and Canada
+INNOCENT, Bishop of Hagerstown and Auxiliary to His Beatitude
+NIKOLAI, Bishop of Baltimore and Auxiliary to His Beatitude