Calling the city’s grief “raw and real,” New Zealand Bishop Paul Martin of Christchurch called on people to overcome hate with love after Friday’s attack on two mosques in the city left 50 people dead.
“We are unable to express the confusion and pain we feel. Our grief threatens to overwhelm our community at the tragic loss of our sisters and brothers and the act of hate that has been inflicted,” Martin said at a memorial Mass on Saturday.
“We know that our loving God has not caused this pain, but the freedom God gives us as a mark of his great love has been tragically misused and abused,” the bishop said.
Australian Brenton Tarrant was charged in court on Saturday with one count of murder, although more are expected to follow. Three other people arrested on Friday have been released, and police officials said they are not suspected of being involved in the crime.
Tarrant did not enter a plea but made a hand sign associated with white supremacists.
At the memorial Mass taking place in St. Mary’s pro Cathedral, Martin said it was a day of “shared grief and pain.”
“We are unable to express the confusion and pain we feel. Our grief threatens to overwhelm our community at the tragic loss of our sisters and brothers and the act of hate that has been inflicted,” the bishop said.
“We gather here this morning because we are at a loss about what to do or what to say. I know that many of you have already reached out to members of the Muslim community in your neighborhoods and workplaces. Your acts of love are already overpowering the hate,” he said.
The bishop added that “in solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers…that our only hope is in God.”
Muslims make up only 2.6 percent of New Zealand’s 5 million people. Most of them are immigrants, with a large percentage being refugees.