November 4, 2018
Filipinos have long held special relations with the Jewish people. In World War II, when Hitler was rounding up and killing them in the Holocaust, President Quezon gave them sanctuary in the Philippines. It was the Philippines which broke the tie in the voting in the United Nations General Assembly for the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel in 1947. And Filipino Christians know well the stories of the Biblical figures Abraham, Moses, King David and King Solomon, and, of course, Jesus of Nazareth.
We thus read about the recent massacre of Jews attending Sabbath services in their synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, with more than a touch of sadness that in this day and age, some people continue to condemn the Jews as a people — like the gunman who shot 11 dead and wounded six others at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last Saturday.
The gunman had no political or economic or any of the usual reasons for the recent mass shootings in the United States. He simply didn’t like Jews as a people, shouting “All Jews must die!” as he launched his attack with an assault rifle and three handguns. The Department of Justice said it will file hate crime and other criminal charges against him.
Leaders around the world have condemned the synagogue killings, among them United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and, of course, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. US President Donald Trump was blamed by critics for fueling hate in America today with his rhetoric, but he went to Pittsburgh with the First Lady Melania to condemn the attack and express his sympathies for the victims and the people of Pittsburgh.
In the Vatican City Pope Francis led prayers for Pittsburgh last Sunday, denouncing the “inhuman act of violence” and the “flames of hatred” that caused it. “All of us are wounded by this inhuman act of violence,” he said. He prayed that God would “help us extinguish the hotbeds of hatred that are developing in our societies, strengthening the sense of humanity, respect for life, moral and civil values, and the holy fear of God, who is Love and the Father of all.”
Ii is a prayer which we share with all people of goodwill here and around the world.