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Prayers as police seek out Boston bomber

19 April 2013


All-eyes: Police in tactical gear surround an apartment building while looking for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings in Watertown, Boston, on Friday

All-eyes: Police in tactical gear surround an apartment building while looking for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings in Watertown, Bos...

BOSTON went into lockdown on Friday as police searched for one of two men suspected of carrying out a bomb attack on the Boston Marathon earlier this week. The offices of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, and the Cathedral Church of St Paul, were closed.

Churches across Massachusetts have been holding prayer vigils this week after three people, including an eight-year-old boy, were killed, and 176 injured, in the bomb attack on Monday. Two explosions occurred as amateur athletes and fun-runners continued to cross the finish line, four hours after the start of the race.

A manhunt began late on Thursday for two suspects, widely reported to be two brothers of Chechen origin, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder brother, was killed early on Friday during a shoot-out with police, but Dzhokh Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old student, was still at large on Friday.

Residents of Boston and the surrounding suburbs were told to stay indoors with their doors locked as the manhunt continued.

The Bishop of Massachussetts, the Rt Revd M. Thomas Shaw, said in a message to clergy in the diocese, on Friday morning: "Given the ongoing police activity that you are no doubt seeing on the news, I want to let you know that we have been in touch this morning with our chaplains at MIT and Harvard, and with the clergy and wardens at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Watertown, and everyone there, as well as at Episcopal Divinity School, are safe, as far as we know.

"Please pray for all in the affected communities, and pray for a speedy and violence-free resolution to these disturbing events. Keep watch, Lord, with those who work or watch or weep this day." 

A service led by a Suffragan Bishop of Massachusetts, the Rt Revd Gayle Harris, was held in St Paul's Cathedral, in Boston, on Tuesday; and President Barack Obama spoke at a multifaith service at the city's RC Holy Cross Cathedral on Thursday.

Mr Obama said: "Scripture teaches us, 'God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.' And that's the spirit you've displayed in recent days.

"When doctors and nurses, police and firefighters and EMTs and Guardsmen run towards explosions to treat the wounded - that's discipline. When exhausted runners, including our troops and veterans - who never expected to see such carnage on the streets back home - become first responders themselves, tending to the injured - that's real power.

"When Bostonians carry victims in their arms, deliver water and blankets, line up to give blood, open their homes to total strangers, give them rides back to reunite with their families - that's love."

Trinity Church, Copley Square, near the marathon's finish line, is in an area that was closed to the public after the attacks, as police continue their search for evidence. The Priest-in-Charge, the Revd Samuel Lloyd III, said on the church's Facebook page: "Our hearts are heavy with the sense of loss - of a bright young boy who will never grow to manhood, of a runner who will never have the legs to walk again, of families that will never again know what it means to share a meal, or go for a run, together.

"As Christians, we deplore these horrific acts, and we pray for God's strength and guidance as we rebuild our common life. We take great heart in our Easter faith, that God can bring healing and hope out of the worst of suffering and loss. And we pledge ourselves to the holy work of creating a society free of the violence that haunts our species."

A team from Trinity ran the marathon to raise funds for a peace initiative by Bishop Shaw. None was hurt in the attack.

Bishop Shaw wrote an article on his diocesan website in which he asked: "What can we do in tragedy's wake?"

"We can pray, most immediately for caregivers and responders, for those who are wounded or grieving, for all who are fearful or angry," he said. "God will show us how we can best bring Christ's peace and healing to this difficult time if we continue to pray about what has happened. . . Good can triumph over evil, but it's going to take some work."

The Bishops of Connecticut, the Rt Revd Ian T. Douglas, in a message on the diocesan website, wrote: "Just over four months ago, with the shootings in Sandy Hook, we felt the pain and agony of violence come into our diocese, breaking open the agony and suffering that violence enacts in our lives. Today that ache is opened again as our neighbours in Boston, while celebrating our country with an annual Patriots' Day marathon, were victims of violence. 

"May we recommit ourselves to the work of peace in the world. Our God offers hope to the world in the resurrection. May we offer that hope to our friends and neighbours, walking with them in love."

The Dean of Washington National Cathedral, the Very Revd Gary Hall, described the attack as "a sobering reminder of the persistence of malevolent violence in our world. . . We will continue to hold the victims, their families, and the city of Boston in our prayers in the assurance that God will bring healing and hope to those who suffer and mourn."

Pope Francis sent a message to the RC Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Seán O'Malley, expressing his "sympathy and closeness in prayer". The message said: "His Holiness invokes God's peace upon the dead, his consolation upon the suffering, and his strength upon all those engaged in the continuing work of relief and response. At this time of mourning, the Holy Father prays that all Bostonians will be united in a resolve not to be overcome by evil, but to combat evil with good, working together to build an ever more just, free and secure society for generations yet to come."



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