Local clergy have condemned the terrorist attacks in Paris which have so far claimed 129 lives as “barbaric and monstrous.”
The statement was made by the Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor during the inauguration of the new Parish Council in St John’s Parish, Belfast.
Bishop Treanor told those assembled: “We are painfully aware of the precarious, insecure and troubled state of the human family and the cosmos in our times, of which last night’s barbaric and monstrous attacks in Paris were cruel expressions.
“We hold in our prayers and thoughts those who were killed, their families and friends, the injured, as we do also the people of France, the city of Paris and all who serve in public office in that country and city.
“We can and should intensify our commitment and efforts to promoting a culture, a morality and a lifestyle of respect for all human beings, their culture, traditions, religions and their rights as persons and peoples.
“At this time parishes and the faith communities of all religions share a historic responsibility before God, humanity, the international community and its institutions, to promote and inculcate at individual and local community level attitudes and virtues which pursue the way of peace over war and violence, justice and dialogue over revenge and retaliation, the language of prayer, mercy and contemplation over words of poisonous hatred and xenophobia.
“Parishes and faith communities must rally to create and sustain that civic space where courageous and hope-building political leadership can grow, function and flourish,” he concluded.
The Rev John Nelson of Ballycarry Old Presbyterian Church, who is also the secretary of Larne Ministers’ Club, said he had been left “horrified” at the suffering inflicted on innocent people.
“That’s what terrorists do, they afflict the innocent above all else, but it makes it all the more evil,” he told the Times.
“To attack random people is purely evil.
“Those who are bereaved must come first, but those who are injured are too often forgotten, some are very seriously injured and will never be restored to full health again and that should be born in mind.
“They require our thoughts, sympathy and prayers.
“That this could be done allegedly in the name of religion is not only a great sin but a slur on all that God teaches us.”
The Rev Paul Reid of Larne Old Presbyterian Church said that his congregation had observed a two-minute silence to commemorate the victims of the attack during last week’s Sunday service.
“We were totally horrified and shocked that people who were out enjoying themselves were attacked in such a manner,” he stated.
“The congregation was shocked and during the two-minute silence it was very moving, you could have heard a pin drop.
“Fundamentalism is the issue. A lot of things are done and people try to justify what they are doing through some cause, but what they need to do is learn to respect each other.
“People are living in fear and anxiety, they are worrying if they are safe.” he concluded.