The International Fellowship of Reconciliation is the world's oldest interfaith, pacifist movement, and its US branch is similarly the oldest of its kind in that country. As IFOR prepares to gather in Italy for its quadrennial Council, we learned with sadness of the murders of a worshipping Jewish community at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
We abhor this act both from the perspective of our faiths and from that of our abiding belief in nonviolence. There is something particularly chilling about killings during worship; the USA has previously been witness to this in churches around the country. We are conscious that this occurs at at time when anti-Semitism is again on the rise around the world. IFOR and its branches hope for the day when all signs of religious intolerance are eliminated from the hearts of human beings.
We are also conscious of the fact that part of the motivation for these unconscionable crimes appears to have been hatred for the refugee resettlement agency, HIAS which has for over a century now demonstrated the Jewish value of “welcoming the stranger.” This touches home, as IFOR members are among those who have benefited from HIAS services after having survived war and genocide. We must all work to stem the tide of fear that is inspiring the increase xenophobic violence and a resurgence of nationalism around the world.
We feel compelled to speak to President Trump's assertion that these murders could have been avoided had the synagogue counted on 'protection'. Humanity’s protection will never be found in the use of weapons. Our US branch has done a lot of work on gun violence but the problem is endemic. We hope and pray that no such act befall another community, even while recognising that our global addiction to weapons makes that all the more likely.
As we gather as an international fellowship in Catania, we hold those mourning in Pittsburgh in our hearts. We pray for healing and reconciliation in a world that so desperately needs it. We stand in solidarity with all those who are facing intolerance, discrimination and persistent acts of dehumanization. We remain committed to drawing on the wisdom of our faith traditions, to put an end to violence in the world and we recommit ourselves to labor for a world where no families will have to know the pain that was felt in Pittsburgh this week.