5 years later, can we forgive 9/11?
Attacks shook faith’s foundations
By Father Robert Schreiter, C.PP.S., (www.americancatholic.org)
CHICAGO, Sept. 8, 2006 (www.catholic.org) – It has been five years since the tragedies struck the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. Memories of that fateful day continue to reverberate in our hearts and minds.
The questions I will try to examine here are these:
- Where was God when these things happened, and why did God allow them to happen?
- How, as a country, do we deal with the sense of violation we feel by those events, and how do we come to terms with our suffering, as individuals and as a people?
- Is it possible to forgive those who planned and carried out the attacks, since they have shown no repentance?
- Is there a way forward for us, despite all these unanswered questions, and can anything positive come out of this terrible experience? Of course, these questions do not allow any easy answers or solutions. But sometimes, simply returning to them gives us the chance to gain new insights and see things a little more clearly.
Why did God let this happen?
Where was God? This question is the first that springs to mind for us as believers. If God loves us and watches over us, how could something like this even occur? Where was God when this happened? Why did God allow this to happen?
Whenever tragedy strikes and evil happens, it challenges our very understanding of who God is.
The tragedy of 9/11 was neither the first time nor will it be the last time we are going to ask these questions. Think of the tsunami that struck South Asia in 2004 or what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans in 2005. Older people will remember the death of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 or even the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Whether tragedy comes to us through a natural disaster (which we call an “act of God”) or through the cunning of human beings, God seems to have to answer for it.
All such events lead us to question either God’s power to prevent such things or God’s love that truly cares for us. Theologians have grappled with these questions for centuries and have not come up with a satisfactory answer.