CNS PHOTO | BRIAN SNYDER, REUTERS
Patty Campbell walks out of the April 22 funeral Mass for her daughter, Krystle Campbell, with her son Billy, right, at her side at St. Joseph Church in Medford, Mass. Krystle was one of three people killed when bombs exploded in the crowded streets near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Without the civilization of love, there will be no civilization at all, said Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley in his homily at a Mass offered for the repose of the souls of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombings and aftermath.
Even though "the culture of death looms large" today, the light of Christ the Good Shepherd "can expel the darkness and illuminate for us a path that leads to life, to a civilization of solidarity and love," O'Malley said.
"I hope that the events of this past week have taught us how high the stakes are," the cardinal told the congregation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross April 21.
"We must build a civilization of love, or there will be no civilization at all," O'Malley said.
Prayers were also offered for those physically injured and "for the brave men and women who saved countless lives as first responders."
The violence in Boston left five people dead, including one of the suspected bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and more than 170 people seriously injured. The other suspect – Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 19 – was captured by police and is currently under armed guard in hospital.
O'Malley said, "Everyone was profoundly affected by the wanton violence and destruction inflicted upon our community by two young men unknown to all of us.
"It is very difficult to understand what was going on in the young men's minds, what demons were operative, what ideologies or politics or the perversion of their religion. It was amazing to witness, however, how much goodness and generosity were evidenced in our community as a result of the tragic events they perpetrated," he added.
The cardinal said the bombings and subsequent violence led to "a surge in civic awareness and sense of community. It has been inspiring to see the generous and at times heroic responses to the Patriot's Day violence.
"Our challenge is to keep this spirit of community alive going forward. As people of faith, we must commit ourselves to the task of community building."
He urged his listeners to heed what Jesus teaches in the Gospel - "that we must care for each other, especially the most vulnerable; the hungry, the sick, the homeless, the foreigner; all have a special claim on our love."
"We must be a people of reconciliation, not revenge. The crimes of the two young men must not be the justification for prejudice against Muslims and against immigrants," he emphasized.
Cardinal Sean O'Malley
"The Gospel is the antidote to the 'eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth' mentality."
After Mass, when asked about the fate of suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev if found guilty of the bombings, O'Malley told reporters the Catholic Church opposes the death penalty, "which I think is one further manifestation of the culture of death in our midst."
In his homily, he reminded his listeners of the parable of the good Samaritan, a story, he said, "about helping one's neighbour when that neighbour was from an enemy tribe, a foreign religion, a hostile group."
"We know so little about the two young men who perpetrated these heinous acts of violence. One said he had no friends in this country, the other said his chief interests were money and his career," O'Malley said. "People need to be part of a community to lead a fully human life.
"As believers, one of our tasks is to build community, to value people more than money or things, to recognize in each person a child of God, made in the image and likeness of our Creator."
O'Malley added, "The individualism and alienation of our age has spawned a culture of death. Over a million abortions a year is one indication of how human life has been devalued.
"Violent entertainment, films and video games have coarsened us and made us more insensitive to the pain and suffering of others.
"The inability of the Congress to enact laws that control access to automatic weapons is emblematic of the pathology of our violent culture."
O'Malley also spoke at an April 18 interfaith prayer service held at the cathedral where he called on people to "repair our broken world" as a community and not as individuals.
The tragedy provides, he said, "a challenge and an opportunity for us to work together with a renewed spirit of determination and solidarity and with the firm conviction that love is stronger than death."