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Self-sacrifice of 9/11 first responders is still an inspiration, says Welby

10 September 2021


President Biden and the First Lady, Jill Biden, during memorial service at the Pentagon to mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, last Saturday

President Biden and the First Lady, Jill Biden, during memorial service at the Pentagon to mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, last Saturda...

THE 9/11 terrorist attacks, carried out 20 years ago last Saturday, were “a sharp reminder to us of the fragility of the privilege many of us have of living free of the threat of violence”, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

In a statement released for the anniversary, Archbishop Welby wrote: “Twenty years after the 9/11 attacks, it’s still hard to articulate the sense of shock and horror felt around the world, the devastating loss experienced by so many people, and the fear and uncertainty that terrible day brought.

“9/11 was a sharp reminder to us of the fragility of the privilege many of us have of living free of the threat of violence, while many in our world continue to wake to war or the fear of war. As we remember those who will still be grieving, recall the fear and sense of insecurity of that time, we again put our hope in the hands of our loving Father God, in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, and in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.”

The Archbishop also reflected on events of the past 18 months — the pandemic, signs of a worsening climate, and the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban — and concludeed that “we see more than ever the reality of our common humanity — our universal need to feel safe, for our loved ones to be safe, and to be able to flourish in our families, neighbourhoods and workplaces.”

He continued: “Wherever we come from, whoever we are, we all have those yearnings. For those of us who are Christians, we can find common cause with others of whatever religion or belief who are working for these shared needs. In the midst of violence and terror, we often see those who are willing to make sacrifices for the wellbeing of others: from the first responders at the Twin Towers, to those working to ensure people’s safety in Afghanistan. May we strive to be those kinds of people in this broken world.”

At Canterbury Cathedral, “Harry” was tolled for ten minutes from 1.36 p.m. (8.46 a.m. EST), the time at which the first plane struck the World Trade Center. Prayers were said in the cathedral at Morning Prayer, a book of remembrance was open in the crypt, and, at 1.40 p.m., a short act of remembrance was led by the Dean, the Very Revd Robert Willis.

Several services and events also took place over the weekend in Trinity, Wall Street, and St Paul’s Chapel, in the same parish in New York, which is situated directly opposite the site where the World Trade Center stood.

In the three months after the attacks, more than 3000 rescue and recovery workers passed through the chapel’s gates for rest while working long shifts at Ground Zero.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the US, the Most Revd Michael Curry, preached during a special eucharist in Trinity, Wall Street, on Sunday. Referring to Isaiah 2, he said: “We observe this solemn occasion at a perilous moment in our national life and history. The seeds of self-centeredness and hatred will inevitably yield a bitter harvest. And yet there is hope to be found. But only if we remember the sacrifice and unity that followed that dark day in 2001, and ‘go to the mountain’ by fiercely recommitting ourselves to a love that gives and does not count the cost.”

In a message published last week by the US Episcopal Church’s Office of Public Affairs, Bishop Curry said: “While 20 years have passed, I also want us to pause and remember the days that followed these tragic events. There was a moment in the aftermath when people came together. We were praying, grieving, and also working together. Because in that moment, however fleeting it was, we knew with immediacy and vulnerability that we need God, and we need each other.

“Memories of that tender co-operation — of love for each other as neighbors — serve as guiding lights for the present.”

A statement from Quakers in Britain, issued on Thursday of last week, said that the military response to the “horrific set of terrorist attacks” had “contributed to a cycle of violence which resulted in immense suffering, death and destruction”. This had left “deep scars”, it said.

“Quakers say work must continue to overcome violence through peacebuilding and human development, on which the prospects for a more peaceful and humane future depend.”


Forthcoming Events

6-7 September 2022
Preaching as Pilgrimage conference
From the College of Preachers.

27-28 September 2022
humbler church Bigger God conference
The HeartEdge Conference in Manchester includes the Theology Slam Live Final.

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