An interfaith gathering of Philadelphia religious and civic leaders used the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to call for peace and an end to violence.

In keeping with the tone and mood of the meeting in the Arch Street Friends Meeting House in Old City Sunday, Philadelphia’s new Archbishop, Charles J. Chaput, recited the famous passage from Gospel of St. Matthew on revenge and love for one’s enemies:  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ but I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”

The “Gathering of Memory and Hope” was sponsored by the Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia formed five years ago to offer a moral voice on issues of importance in the Delaware Valley.

In his first public appearance since his installation, Archbishop Chaput was listed as a co-convener of the gathering. Others included Bishop Claire Schenot Burkat of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Imam Anwar Muhaimin, and Rabbi David Straus, of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

In comments afterwards Archbishop Chaput stressed the importance of building “community” through “deep respect for one another’s traditions.”

In comments afterwards Archbishop Chaput stressed the importance of building “community” through “deep respect for one another’s traditions.”

Bishop Burkat recited St. Paul’s letter to the Romans:

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them… Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Imam Anwar Muhaiman recited a prayer from a 1986 gathering of the world’s religious leaders in Assisi in 1986.

Archbishop Charles Chaput was part of the interfaith Gathering of Memory and Hope in Philadelphia Sept. 11.

(photo: Catholic Standard & Times/Kevin Cook)


“If your enemy inclines towards peace, do you also incline towards peace.” The meeting was convened by Pope John Paul II.

The unadorned simplicity of the Arch Street Meeting House, built in 1804 on land donated by William Penn, a Quaker, reflected the solemnity of the occasion. So did the music which included selections from Bach and Hindemith, played by cellist Talia Schiff.

But hope was also present in the remarks of the speakers and the program, perhaps nowhere more so than in the congregational singing and reciting of the 23rd Psalm with its message of God’s presence and protection in the face of evil and uncertainty.

Arthur Larabee, general secretary of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, urged some 200 worshipers never to allow the terrorist attacks “to drive us away from the people that God has called us to be. We must not surrender the vision of tolerance, compassion and the sacredness of human life.”

Straus said that despite 9/11, “…our country remains a haven of peace , a symbol of freedom, a beacon of life, of compassion and justice, for the down trodden and the oppressed of the world.”

Following a Call from People of Faith to Stop the Violence by Mayor Michael Nutter, the service ended with the singing of a “Song of Peace” set to hymn, Finlandia, by Jean Sibelius.