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Archbishop issues pastoral statement on Pittsburgh shooting

Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, who addressed the world-wide Anglican bishops at the Lambeth Conference in 2008, wrote this: “If you cannot recognize the image of God in a person who does not look or think like you, then you have made God into your own image and have begun to worship an idol.”

Yesterday’s killing of Jews in Pittsburgh while they were at Sabbath prayers was a horrifying event that affects all of us. No life – whether in Pittsburgh or on the streets of Toronto or in the bush on a reserve or in the cities of Syria or South Sudan – no life is expendable.

Anti-Semitism has a long and terrible history in our Christian tradition. It is still alive in too many places and in too many hearts. It should have no place in the hearts and minds of Christians today. I call you to pray for those who have died, for those who grieve the loss of loved ones, for those are caught in the web of anger and hatred. I call on us to challenge words of prejudice and hatred spoken in public or behind closed doors. I call on us to extend hands of friendship and compassion not only to friend but stranger. I call us to act for reconciliation in places of brokenness and pain.

Rabbi Sacks also wrote this: “All the high ideals in the world –the human as God’s image, belief in God’s unity, and the love of neighbours –count for little until they are turned into habits of action that become habits of the heart.” (Lessons in Leadership)

Jesus said, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

Yours faithfully,

The Most Reverend Colin R. Johnson
Bishop of Toronto