1.         It was terrible and completely unspected. When the president of theUnited States was trying to sell to the West  the sophisticated and expensive anti-missile shield, the entire world contemplated live the brutal attack of commercial planes, kidnapped and converted into fiery bombs against the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, symbols of the economic and military power of United States.

2.        The Twin Towers, they said, could not be knocked down or burned. In a certain sense, they were like the Tower of  Babel, collective symbol of power whose language no one can understand (Gn 11). So now, 110 stories of glass and metal crash  down, wrapped in fire and smoke. The number of victims is about 3,000 dead (the first day they spoke of 10,000) and thousands of injured.


3.        Reactions are diverse: horror, revenge, crusade, war, reprisal, a just penalty, morbid satisfaction, the request of a coordinated action of the United Nations and the application of justice by international Courts.


4.        On the 19th, president Bush starts Operation Infinite Justice, sending one hundred military planes and various war ships to the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. The probable objective, although not yet specified, is Afghanistan, where (it seems), Osama Ben Laden, the principal suspect, is located. 90% of Americans are pro-war and 67% accept the possibility of civilian casualties.


5.        Nevertheless, French President, Jacques Chirac, and Secretary General of UN,  Kofi Annan, insist on creating a broad international coalition to fight against terrorism. “Military action cannot be the only solution, we must mount a coordinated international action against terrorism. This is something that only the UN is capable of doing”.


6.         The initiative Justice yes, war no ( asks those in power to turn, where possible, to legal international institutions to judge the ones responsible for the attacks, instead of use instruments of war, violence and destruction.


7.         The horrible tragedy should not keep us from asking some questions: Why does the USA generate so much hate? Can you launch bombs on half the world (Vietnam, Chile, Panama, Somalia, Irak, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Afghanistan, Sudan, Yugoslavia…) without fear of violent reactions? Besides, where does this violence spiral lead us? In the terrible attacks, on August the 7th, 1998, against the American embassies in Dar es Salam (Tanzania) and Nairobi (Kenya), there were 257 casualties and more than 4.000 wounded. After that came the American bombings of supposed terrorist bases, with their mistakes and collateral effects. What is happening now is much worse. But, what would happen if an attack is made against nuclear power plants? What would happen if one day nuclear, chemical or bacteriological weapons are used? We must remember the warnings of the Gospel: “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword”( Mt. 26, 52). Certainly the future is uncertain. But lets not make it worse.


8.      Pope John II has asked Americans not to yield to the “temptation of hatred and violence”. The U.S. Bishop’s Conference has also sent President Bush a letter which supports the decision  to respond to terrorism with military force: “Our nation, in collaboration with others, has the moral right and the sacred duty to defend the common good against terrorist attacks”. Nevertheless, they point out that “any military action must respect sound moral principles”. The President of the Conference explains that “the response must be careful to protect the innocent civilian population”. In the same line, Vatican spokesman Navarro Valls has made clear that the Holy See “would understand the use of military force”.



9.      An Afghan-American, Tamim Ansary, says the following: “Some years ago the U.N. estimated that there are 500.000 mutilated orphans in Afghanistan, a country without an economy, without food. There are millions of widows”…“new bombs would only smash the ruins left by the old bombs… Perhaps some of these bombs would reach some of these disabled orphans, who cannot move and don’t even have wheelchairs”… “we are flirting with a world war between Islam and the West. And do you know what? This is Bin Laden’s plan…Probably he is wrong, in the end, the West would won, for whatever reason, but the war would last years and millions of people would die, not only theirs but also ours”. Of course, one side would talk of a “just war”, the other of a “holy war”.


10.  The U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) reports on the humanitarian catastrophe of Afghanistan, after three years of draught and more than 20 of continuous conflict, with violation of human rights: “Before last week’s events, there were already around a million internal displaced people in the Afghan territory”(17-9-2001). The humanitarian aid workers have been evacuated. The situation can get worse very quickly, provoking massive exoduses and thousand of deaths.



11.  On Sunday the 16th the biblical passage that was read in all churches was the metal bull, a perfect symbol, the false god of the gold bull in front of which the people prostrate themselves (Ex 32,7-14). Well, on Sunday 23rd, the prophet Amos’s denunciation  shakes up the general apathy (Am 8, 4-7; to see Acts 28,27): to steal from the poor cries out to heaven. God takes on the cause of the helpless: “He who scorns and suffocates it”, it says in the introduction of the reading, “has in front of him infinite justice”. It is an apt replica of the operation that now changes its name: Enduring Freedom.



12.  The Gospel for that Sunday is the unjust money. It presents a radical option: You cannot serve God and money (Lk 16,13). Money is a false and unjust god that hardens  the heart and opens social gulfs between the rich and the poor (Lk 16,19-31). The poor raise questions as vivid and universal as food, health, job, housing, education, justice, freedom. As Vatican Council II made clear, to satisfy the demands of justice enormous  social differences must be eliminated (GS 66). Scandalous differences between the rich and the poor are an injustice and, furthermore, a social danger: they generate violence. Fanaticism does not explain everything.


13.  The second reading (1 Tm 2, 1-8) is very appropriate. St. Paul asks prayers for all those in authority so that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life. He invites us to pray, lifting up hands that are free of hatred and of argument. In a small prayer group, that terrible September 11th, we found an impressive Psalm. It talked about to overcoming fear and trusting in God, in spite of all: You should not fear …the arrow that flies by day (Ps 91).


14.  The United States must learn from its own history. It is not only an empire that  dominates people. That is what is being attacked now, as the violent Galileans did against the Roman  Empire (Lk 13,1-5; Jn 10, 1-21). The United States is also a country born of emigration, converted into a promised land for immense masses of immigrants and refugees. In these days people recall the words engraved in the Statue of Liberty, a symbol so different from others, from oppressive symbols: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door." Yes this is everlasting.



Dialogue: Which positions seem Christian to us? Which do not?


Condemn the madness of terrorist attacks.

Support war, even if innocent people die.

War is a right and a duty, taking into account sane moral principles.

Think about the consequences of war.

Promote a coordinated international action against terrorism.

Judge in International Courts those who are responsible.

Think about the reasons of violence.

Denounce the spiral of violence.

Jesus of Nazareth is not with the violent Galileans but neither with the empire.

The Gospel denounces unjust situations that generate violence.


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