NEW YORK — On the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Catholic leaders in the United States has spoken in honor of those who lost their lives and praised the country’s resolve and unity.
“This is my 11th 9/11 as archbishop of New York,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan in a video released Wednesday morning.
“And when I first came, I went down to Barclay Street, to St. Peter’s parish, which was one of the sites where people were tended to and where the bodies and the wounded were brought. And the pastor there said to me, ‘We’re going to rise up. We’re going to see that love conquers hate and that good conquers evil.’ And boy, that spirit of resilience, that spirit of rebuilding and restoration and renewal — that now, I think, characterizes our 9/11.”
The Archdiocese of New York released a statement via Twitter, offering prayers for the souls and families of those lost 18 years ago.
“Today we join our hearts in prayer for all those lives lost and forever altered by the events on Sept. 11, 2001.”
The Diocese of Brooklyn offered similar sentiments, saying, “We join together in prayer to never forget, to remember the lives we lost that day and the lives that were changed forever. For everyone who was touched by this day — you are in our prayers and hearts forever.”
In the Vatican, Pope Francis met with an interreligious committee, where they offered prayers for the victims of the attack.
Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, where the Pentagon is located, offered prayers for both the victims and for the country.
“On the anniversary of this tragic day in our nation’s history, we pray for all those who died and for ongoing strength and consolation for their loved ones,” said Bishop Burbdige. “Pray that God will protect us and our country and fill all the world with the peace that only he can give.”
Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks in New York, Arlington, Virginia, and in a thwarted attack that ended with a plane crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The first certified victim of the attack was Father Mychal Judge, a Franciscan friar who was chaplain of the New York Fire Department. Father Judge was struck by debris and killed while ministering to firefighters at the World Trade Center.
The two planes that struck the Twin Towers originated from Boston’s Logan International Airport. At the time of the attack, now-Bishop Robert Deeley of Portland, Maine, was a pastor at a parish across the harbor from the airport. He shared his memories of the day.
“I opened up the church and began the Rosary,” tweeted Bishop Deeley. “Within a short time, the church was full, and it continued for the whole day as we understood little by little what had happened.”
He said the knowledge that two of the planes had taken off from Logan cast “a darker light” on what had once been a welcoming place.
Bishop Deeley acknowledged that his present city of Portland, Maine, also played a role in the attacks. Some of the hijackers spent several days in the city before the attack and “began their heinous journeys at the [Portland International] Jetport.”
The attacks, Bishop Deeley said, “left us all feeling hopeless,” yet also served as “a moment of hope.”
“What happened on 9/11 reminded us that we are well-served by those who protect us and serve us. We need to pause to give them thanks. We do not need to wait until a disaster strikes to be grateful for the dedication of all of those whose life [sic] work is the protection of the public,” he said.
“May we continue to reach out in compassion to all who were affected by the violence of 9/11, promote justice for all peoples, and be architects and ambassadors for world peace.”