The March 14 terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which left 50 people dead have shocked the world, and rallied persons of faith in prayer and compassion for the dead and for the Muslim community, not only in Christchurch but around the globe.

"We hold you in prayer as we hear the terrible news of violence against Muslims at mosques in Christchurch," the bishops of New Zealand wrote. "We are profoundly aware of the positive relationships we have with Islamic people in this land, and we are particularly horrified that this has happened at a place and time of prayer."

In Rome, pope Francis His Holiness indicated that he prays for the healing of the injured, the consolation of those who grieve the loss of their loved ones, and for all affected by this tragedy (Read full statement).

His Grace Lionel Gendron, the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, noted in a letter written on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Canada that:

"We are horrified that the attack injured and killed so many people, and left behind a feeling of fear and uncertainty in your homes and places of worship. For Canadians, and especially Muslim Canadians, this act of horrific violence is a painful reminder to the shooting which took place 29 January 2017 at the Centre culturel islamique de Québec, in Canada." (Read full letter)

In Winnipeg, Belle Jarniewski, President of the Manitoba Multifaith Council, wrote:

"On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Manitoba Multifaith Council, I offer our deepest sympathy to the victims and families of the horrific shootings at two mosques in New Zealand.

"As attacks on places of worship proliferate around the world, it is essential for us to join together to condemn all expressions of hatred. We are witnessing an explosion of racism and violence around the world. Hate speech is supported by all too many as free speech and an inherent right. Simply put, that means we are not doing enough -- to educate, to condemn, and to join together to combat hate.

"We can only be stronger when standing together."




During the evening of January 31, 2019 there was an anti-Semitic attack on the BerMax Café on Corydon Avenue in Winnipeg. This is an appalling and horrific incident. As someone working in the area of Interchurch and Interfaith Learning for the Archdiocese of St. Boniface it is heartbreaking to witness our Jewish brothers and sisters go through yet another vicious attack.

On October 28, 1965, fifty three years almost to the very day prior to the killings in Pittsburgh, the Catholic Church promulgated a teaching originating from its highest authority. The Second Vatican Council, through its document Nostra Aetate, clearly teaches –

“Furthermore, in Her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel’s spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of Anti-Semitism, directed at Jews at any time by anyone.” 

Despite this ringing declaration, the Teaching of Contempt that so many have spoken of continues its 1800 year march through human history. The same spirit that engineered the deaths of Jews so short a time ago in Pittsburgh is alive and active in our community of Winnipeg right now. In the face of this reality and the world-wide increase of anti-Semitism it is a mistake to assume that this is just the work of a few. Expressions of regret and horror are not nearly enough. The spirit of hate in our community has taken action – how will the voices of love respond? The question, brothers and sisters, is what will our community do to summon forth the better angels of our nature. Are we, after all, just reliving history and taking on the role of guilty bystanders?

Greg Barrett

Co-Coordinator: Interchurch and Interfaith Learning

Archdiocese of St. Boniface




“So to be blessed by the true and living God of all creation is not an either-or thing; it is a both-and thing. God had a unique vocation both for Israel and for the Ethiopians. God liberated both Israelites and the Philistines and Arameans from their oppressors. The doctrine of calling, election, or chosen-ness has indeed been abused as a vicious weapon of hostility. But we can rediscover it as an instrument of peace, an instrument of blessing. To do so will require us, like Abraham, to make a radical break with the hostile identities we inherited – identities of domination, revolution, assimilation, purification, competition, victimization, and isolation. It will require us to venture out – “not knowing where we are going” – learning to embody a new, strong identity, an identity of mission and reconciliation: blessed to be a blessing; others for the sake of others, giving and receiving blessings with other blessed people, and thus joining God in healing a world torn by human hostility.”

Brian D. McLaren
Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Budda and Mohammed Cross the Road



For as long as there have been humans on earth, it seems that we have struggled with the problem of unity and diversity. The dualistic mind, which most of us were taught to emphasize, is incapable of creating unity. It “smartly” divides reality into binaries. It cannot help but choose sides. Can you think of an era, nation, religion, or culture in which the majority has not opposed otherness? When there was no obvious “other” around (for example, sinners, Jews, or Muslims), Christianity divided itself into warring groups calling each other heretics. Yet underneath the very real difference between religions and peoples lies a unifying foundation. I see that unifying foundation as the continual bubbling up of certain constants in all of the world religions, or if you will, the perennial tradition.

Richard Rohr
December 3, 2017


“All I’m saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we’re caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until what you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”

Martin Luther King Jr. - Letter from Birmingham Jail
Cited in Arizona Republic, January 16, 2017

Interchurch and Interfaith Learning