Padreblog reflects on the massacre perpetrated at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s offices on Wednesday. They remind us that nothing can justify the killing of journalists, no matter how offensive their publications may have been.
In turn, we want to express our pain and compassion for the victims—known and less known—of the heinous attack committed on 7 January. As compatriots, as priests, as believers, we are alongside those who have fallen and their families. Because nothing, absolutely nothing, can justify that journalists and cartoonists are slaughtered. We mourn the murdered victims, we mourn the policemen killed for trying to protect them, we weep with all the bereaved families … To the editorial board of Charlie Hebdo, the terrorists’ main target, we say: "We are on your side, because beyond our differences and wounds of the past, we are brothers in humanity, even if it sometimes takes a tragedy to remind us of it …."
Let’s be frank: it is true that we have often been irritated by Charlie Hebdo, we priests and Catholic faithful! Sometimes, their cartoons have been shamelessly irreverent. We felt they were taking pleasure in provoking, soiling, or vilifying what is sacred to us, although we are not the “fanatics” they meant to aim at. We had the opportunity to express the pain occasioned to many believers by the magazine’s offensive front pages, some of them so painful for us to see.
But today we mourn those who did not made us laugh … "because beyond our differences and wounds of the past, we are brothers in humanity, even if it sometimes takes a tragedy to remind us of it …."
The Pope and our bishops – who were so often caricatured! – have expressed their emotion and horror at what happened on that tragic morning of January 7. This fanaticism that has riddled journalists and policemen with bullets also persecutes our Christian brethren in the East … There, Muslims are targeted too. This fanaticism unintentionally unites anyone wanting to confront it and who loves freedom. It forces us to find what we have in common. Because it is France that is attacked through its journalists and police officers.
No doubt all the victims were not pillars of the Church… However, in the coming days, we will offer the most beautiful thing that we Christians have: our prayers, for them, their colleagues and their families. Not to mention the wounded. The bells of our churches sounded the death knell: It was our modest way of sharing the pain of a whole country gathered together for once.
At Mass, during these past days, we read in the letter of St. John this statement: "God is Love." Those who kill in the name of God commit the worst desecration. Not to respect life—even that which offends us—is a huge blasphemy.
France will find within herself the moral and spiritual values against this barbarism. One can only recover from an ordeal by growing. It will be the miracle that these fanatics will have allowed, in spite of themselves. France will gather around its best core values, "because beyond our differences and wounds of the past, we are brothers in humanity, even if it sometimes takes a tragedy to remind us of it…."
Translated from the French by Liliane Stevenson.