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 CNS Story:

LONDON-MASS Jul-8-2005 (710 words) xxxi

British cardinal condemns 'false' religion professed by terrorists

By Simon Caldwell
Catholic News Service

LONDON (CNS) -- A British cardinal has condemned the "false" religion of terrorists who murdered about 50 civilians in a series of bomb attacks July 7 in London.

At a July 8 Mass at London's Westminster Cathedral, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster denounced the "havoc and tragedy and pain" brought to London by the suspected al-Qaida terrorists, for whom police are still hunting.

"The people who carried out these monstrous acts with chilling efficiency and forethought are believed to have acted in the name of religion," said the cardinal, before asking: "Who is their god?

"It is not the God who revealed himself to Moses and Jacob; nor the God who, in Jesus Christ, walked this earth and died and rose to save humanity; nor the God worshipped by the Muslim people, who is almighty and merciful," he said.

"Who is the god of these men of hate? It is a false god, one projected from the darkest recesses of the human heart," he said in his homily.

The bomb attacks -- on three Underground trains and a bus -- all occurred within the Archdiocese of Westminster. The cardinal cut short a visit to Rome to return to London after the tragedy.

Opening the Mass, he prayed to God to "protect us from men of violence and keep us from weapons of hate."

The first reading was taken from the Book of Genesis and recounted Abel's murder at the hands of his brother, Cain. The Gospel from St. Matthew included Chapter 5, verse 21, which begins: "You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, 'You shall not kill.'"

"The attacks on London yesterday have brought home to us, as never before, the horror in the United States of Sept. 11, Madrid, Bali," the cardinal said in his homily, referring to terrorist attacks in 2001 in the United States, 2004 in Spain and 2002 in Indonesia.

"It is easier to feel the agony of those we work with and live next door to. But it is easier, too, to feel anger and disgust at those who perpetrate evil," he said.

He told the congregation that although they might feel "pain, horror, confusion and anxiety" it would be wrong to seek vengeance against "sectors of the population," a reference to Britain's Muslims.

The cardinal said the attacks were designed by terrorists to have divisive effects, but he urged the congregation to learn from St. Paul and to "overcome evil with good."

"The law of history is not on the side of the terrorists," he said. "The past is littered with the burned-out husks of attempts at bringing about political change through violence.

"Violence, as we know, breeds violence, and violence ultimately destroys itself," he said. "If we stand firm, if we believe in peace, then terror will not succeed; it will exhaust itself in time."

Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munoz, the Vatican nuncio to Britain, then read Pope Benedict XVI's letter of condolence to Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor and added, "That is also my personal sentiment tonight."

The prayers of the faithful included petitions on behalf of those injured and killed in the attacks. Emergency services personnel and people stricken by fear also were remembered.

"We pray that our resolve to work for peace may never be undermined," read one prayer, "and that all nations strive to defeat those who seek to achieve their goals through terror."

Outside the cathedral, Anita Bala, 26, of London, told Catholic News Service that she attended the Mass because the bombings made her feel powerless.

She said: "You gain some comfort from a prayer. It's the only thing you can do."

Mark Heffernan, 30, also of London, said he worked close to the site of the bus bombing; he wanted to pray because he was "angry, anxious and scared" because of the attacks.

John Mandeng, 37, of Laurel, Md., said he wanted to attend the Mass in the cathedral after he grasped the enormity of the attacks.

"I was at home on the morning of Sept. 11 and watched it live," said Mandeng, who said he was on a business trip to Britain.

"To some extent it brought it back. It brought back a lot of sad memories," he said.

END


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