To the Faithful Flock of the Dioceses
of the Russian Orthodox Church
Outside of Russia
Within the United States of America

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During the morning of Tuesday, 29 August/11 September, terrorists overpowered the pilots and crew of four passenger jets and crashed them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon, near Washington, D.C. In so doing they intentionally killed everyone on board the planes, including themselves, and many thousands of innocent lives in the buildings they destroyed.

These horrific acts of terrorism have by their savagery and audacity instantly wrought a profound change in American society. Everywhere, the American people are weighed down by the magnitude of the loss of life, filled with indignation at those who have committed these senseless acts and their supporters abroad, and newly aware that much that they have taken for granted in their lives must now undergo a fundamental change.

Regrettably, we hear repeated cries for revenge and retribution. To these the Orthodox must respond with the words of divine Scripture: "Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord" (Rom. 12: 19). Let us also not forget the words of our Savior, said of those who were putting Him to death, as He endured the excruciating pain of His brutal crucifixion: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Lk. 32: 34).

Beloved children in our Savior, let us use these sad days for serious introspection. Speaking to His disciples of the fall of another tower, in which lives were likewise lost, Jesus called His followers to examine their lives, and repent. He said: "Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Lk. 13: 4-5).

Many search the Scriptures to see if these be the last times which were foretold, and see "wars, and rumors of wars" as signs that this is so. Be this so or not, let us repent as He urges us, and dedicate the remaining time of our lives to the acquisition of the Holy Spirit.

Aware of how swiftly death came upon the many thousands who perished in the recent disaster, let us use the time remaining to us to acquire the virtues and to do good to our neighbors, so that they may marvel and say: "See what men of love these Orthodox Christians are!" Beloved, let us dedicate ourselves to this goal, and not be dissuaded from the straight and narrow path which leads to it.

Thus, let us begin by entreating God in our private prayers, that He have mercy upon the victims of this tragedy, and more especially upon the families and loved ones they have left behind. And let us also offer Him fervent plea, that He direct the leaders of this great country, that, guided by His wisdom, in days to come they may make their crucial decisions with prudence, dispassion and circumspection, so that amid peace and tranquility "we may work out our own salvation in fear and trembling" (Phil. 2: 12).

Laurus, Archbishop of Syracuse & Trinity,
Deputy of the First Hierarch
Secretary of the Synod of Bishops

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