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Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2494

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Archbishop praises Londoners for uniting in public support for terror attack victims


The Archbishop of Southwark has praised the widespread show of solidarity for the victims of the London Bridge terror attack from all sections of the capital’s diverse community.

Archbishop Peter Smith commended Londoners for uniting against the terrorists trying to sow panic, hatred and division among them.

“Our hearts go out to the innocent victims of this attack last Saturday evening,” he said in a statement posted on the Archdiocese of Southwark website.

“In a time of adversity the whole community has come together to support victims of crime with extraordinary generosity,” he said.

“In this we have a wonderful example of how to live out the second commandment, ‘You must love your neighbour as yourself’.”

The Archdiocese of Southwark covers London south of the River Thames as well as some of the surrounding counties.

London Bridge and Borough Market, on the south bank, were the scenes of carnage on the evening of June 3 when three Islamist terrorists drove a van at high speed into pedestrians walking on the bridge before attacking people at random with knives and machetes.

Among the eight dead was Ignacio Echeverría, 39, from Las Rozas, near Madrid, who tried to defend a woman from being stabbed by attacking the assailant with his skateboard.

According to Spanish media, Mr Echeverría was a conscientious Catholic who never missed Mass on Sunday and who was also the nephew of Antonio Hornedo, the late Jesuit Bishop of Chachapoyas, Peru.

Echeverría of Poplar, East London, had moved to England a year ago to take up a position in money laundering prevention for the HSBC bank.

Christine Archibald, 30, a Canadian Catholic who once worked in a shelter for the homeless, was also killed in the attack.

The Rt Rev. Mark Davies, the Bishop of Shrewsbury, said: “This is a moment when we need to recall the Christian values on which British society is based.

“We have already seen how acts of selfless charity, the recognition of the stranger as our neighbour and gestures of solidarity have been shown to be stronger than the terror of murderous hate and violence,” he said.

“We must find our security in these true values which make us stronger than those who seek to terrorise and divide us,” he added.

“I am sure these Christian foundations of British society can withstand any threat of division between individuals or communities in this land.”

Days before the London attack, Bishop John Arnold of Salford said that the people of Manchester have yet to grieve fully for the 22 people murdered by a suicide bomber.

Public displays of resilience and defiance risked “throwing a blanket” over a deeper desire to mourn for the victims of the attack on the Manchester Arena, said Bishop Arnold in a homily at the annual media Mass in central London.

He said that besides the dead and 59 injured, tens of thousands of others were badly affected by the attack carried out by Salman Ramadan Abedi, a 22-year-old Manchester Muslim, at a concert by the American singer Ariana Grande.

Great sensitivity, he suggested, was needed to help people to come to terms with the enormity of the attack.

“Thousands, mainly young people, were seriously affected by being at the Arena on the night the bomb went off,” the bishop said.

There was the additional traumatic psychological impact inflicted, he said, on the classmates of children who attended the concert but who were not hurt by the blast as the shock at “one atrocious attack of terror … spread far and wide”.

Bishop Arnold continued: “One thing that became very evident very quickly indeed was the sense of resilience and a sense of defiance.

“But that was so taken up that quite possibly we missed a great deal of sensitivity that needs to be accommodated in those days.”

He said: “In our determination to show resilience and defiance I think we must have lost that sensitivity to the need to grieve.

“My worry for Manchester is that we throw a blanket over what happened and we call it resilience and defiance but there are lots of steps we need to take if we are to come through this in a positive way.”

Young Catholics from across the North West of England were among the thousands of people who attended the concert on May 22.

A number of the injured live in the Diocese of Salford and the Diocese of Shrewsbury, where schools and parishes have been praying for them.

The concert attracted fans from all over the UK, however, including Eilidh MacLeod, a 14-year-old Scottish girl killed when the bomber detonated his suicide vest in the foyer outside the venue.

Her funeral Mass was celebrated by Fr John Paul MacKinnon at Our Lady Star of the Sea parish on her island home of Barra on Monday, the day after Miss Grande staged a second concert in Manchester in tribute to the victims of the attack.


(Photos by Marcin Mazur, Catholic Communications Network)