Cardinal Dolan delivered pastoral consolation at a packed St. Patrick’s Cathedral as he celebrated Mass Nov. 5 for the deceased and injured victims of the Oct. 31 terrorist attack along a lower Manhattan bike path.
“At this Sunday Mass in this cathedral in the heart of the City of New York where New Yorkers come to pray, we recall those slaughtered in last Tuesday’s vicious attack, we pray for those still healing and the family and friends who mourn them and are next to them,” the cardinal said in opening remarks at the 10:15 a.m. liturgy.
“And we pray as well for this city we cherish as our earthly home, resisting temptation to the paralysis of fear and discouragement and rage, rising as ever in hope and resilience.”
The attack left eight people dead and 11 others injured when pedestrians and bicyclists were mowed down by a driver in a pickup truck mid-afternoon on Halloween.
Cardinal Dolan visited the injured at Bellevue Hospital the following day, Nov. 1, All Saints Day.
News reports said police identified the suspect as 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov, who is from Uzbekistan and has been in the United States on a visa since 2010.
He allegedly drove about a mile along a busy bike path near the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan at about 3 p.m. before he slammed into a school bus.
He exited the truck, believed to be a vehicle he rented in New Jersey, and was holding what looked like weapons, but later was said to be a paintball gun and a small pellet gun.
Before he could be apprehended, he was shot by police. He was taken into custody and admitted to a hospital for treatment of his wounds.
Cardinal Dolan, in his homily, asked the congregants to ponder, rhetorically, “Does God, Our Father, ever cry?”
From a theological point of view, “No,” the cardinal answered. “God,” he explained, “is the Supreme Being, above all things. He’s so far transcendent above His creatures and His creation that to attribute to Him any human emotions like crying would be a bit preposterous.
“So, from a speculative point of view, no, God does not cry. But,” the cardinal continued, “God the Son, the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, took flesh; in the Incarnation He took upon himself a human nature in Jesus Christ, True God and True Man, and Jesus Christ the Son of God sure cried, didn’t he?”
The cardinal then cited several of those occasions, among them Jesus as a Baby in Bethlehem; in frustration and sadness over the City of Jerusalem that was rejecting Him, and He Himself cried in agony on the Cross on Good Friday.
“So yes, God does cry,” the cardinal said.
He posed the question in reference to the First Reading from Malachi, and again in remembering the victims of the Oct. 31 terror attack on New York City.
Cardinal Dolan then asked the assembled to think of the past Tuesday’s terror attack on innocent people just a couple miles from the cathedral, “a crazed fanatic killing and shouting out God’s Holy Name”; of the devastation and suffering of hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, whom the cardinal visited on a day trip Oct. 30; of the Oct. 1 bloodshed in Las Vegas; of the poor and sick and forgotten visited by St. Vincent de Paul Society members, and the carnage of war and the men and women who have died protecting the country, as the veterans today can attest.
“Do you not think that now, as in the days of Malachi, God is exclaiming...‘This is not what I have taught you?’” the cardinal said.
“When we cry, as I’m afraid we do, isn’t it good to remember that God cries too? In fact,” the cardinal concluded, “I’d find it difficult to believe in a God who did not.”
The New York attack was being investigated as terrorism, according to CNN, which quoted New York Mayor Bill de Blasio as saying it was “an act of terror and a particularly cowardly act of terror.” But he also said New Yorkers are resilient. He called on all to be vigilant as the city’s Halloween parade went on as planned. It drew about several thousand people.
CBS News reported the suspect yelled “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” when he got out of the truck he was driving.
Five of those who died were part of a larger group of longtime friends visiting from Argentina.
President Donald Trump said in a statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of today’s terrorist attack in New York City and their families.”
The cardinal concluded the Mass by invoking the intercession of “our Immaculate Mother Mary, the patroness of our nation,” of “St. Michael the Archangel, the protector of our armed forces” and of “St. Patrick, the protector of our city.”
In a brief news conference to the side of the cathedral sanctuary after the liturgy, Cardinal Dolan noted the common verbal reaction of people upon learning about a tragedy of such calamity: “Almost the first thing everybody says is, ‘Oh, my God.’ And I think that says something about the human spirit, that in the moments of deep sadness and yes anger and yes temptation to discouragement, we sort of say, this is beyond us and we need the help and consolation of someone beyond us all-powerful, who can work through this mess.”
The place in New York where most people say, “‘Oh, God,’” the cardinal said, “is here at St. Patrick’s. So I said we’ve got to dedicate our Sunday Mass to these victims, to these ones who are still recovering—thank God—to the families who stand with them and who miss them, and to a city that is tempted, at times, to give up hope and to lose its resilience, which we New Yorkers will never let happen.”
Pope Francis prayed for victims of the terrorist attack in New York, as well as victims of other terror attacks, and condemned the murder of innocent men and women in the name of God.
After praying the Angelus with pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square Nov. 1, the pope said he was “deeply saddened” by the attack.
“We ask the Lord to convert the hearts of terrorists and free the world from hatred and from the murderous folly that abuses the name of God to spread death,” he said.
Cardinal Dolan also acknowledged at the Nov. 5 Mass the presence of the country’s veterans who, in a “beautiful tradition” gather at St. Patrick’s Cathedral the Sunday before Veterans Day (Nov. 11) and “remind us, powerfully, to praise God at this Mass for the heroic service of our men and women in uniform, as we seek God’s holy hand over them as we commend to our Eternal Father those who have given their lives in that ultimate sacrifice.”
He also expressed his happiness for the presence of “some of those apostolic men and women who minister in our parishes throughout the archdiocese” to “the poor and the elders, the shut-ins and the sick, through the St. Vincent de Paul Society.”
Catholic News Service contributed to this report.