Speaking at Ground Zero in New York City Friday, Pope Francis described the September 11 terrorists as those who “were victims of a mindset which knows only violence, hatred and revenge.”
The Pope, who is in New York City where he has addressed the United Nations and will celebrate Mass at Madison Square Garden later Friday evening, laid a white rose along the edge of the pool that marks the footprint of the south tower of what was formerly the World Trade Center.
“Here grief is palpable,” the Pope said, adding:
The water we see flowing towards that empty pit reminds us of all those lives which fell prey to those who think that destruction, tearing down, is the only way to settle conflicts. It is the silent cry of those who were victims of a mindset which knows only violence, hatred and revenge. A mindset which can only cause pain, suffering, destruction and tears.
The Pope also acknowledged the sacrifices of the first responders and their families, and encouraged those attending the ceremony to draw strength from their selfless generosity.
Pope Francis, who was joined by other religious leaders, continued:
Here, amid pain and grief, we also have a palpable sense of the heroic goodness which people are capable of, those hidden reserves of strength from which we can draw. In the depths of pain and suffering, you also witnessed the heights of generosity and service. Hands reached out, lives were given. In a metropolis which might seem impersonal, faceless, lonely, you demonstrated the powerful solidarity born of mutual support, love and self-sacrifice. No one thought about race, nationality, neighborhoods, religion or politics. It was all about solidarity, meeting immediate needs, brotherhood. It was about being brothers and sisters. New York City firemen walked into the crumbling towers, with no concern for their own wellbeing. Many succumbed; their sacrifice enabled great numbers to be saved.
This place of death became a place of life too, a place of saved lives, a hymn to the triumph of life over the prophets of destruction and death, to goodness over evil, to reconciliation and unity over hatred and division.
The Pope also called on people of the world to “build unity on the basis of our diversity of languages, cultures and religions, and lift our voices against everything which would stand in the way of such unity.”
“Together we are called to say ‘no to every attempt to impose uniformity and ‘yes’ to a diversity accepted and reconciled,” the Pope added.