Message on the Synagogue Shooting in Pittsburgh

    A message from Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., president, to the University community on the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.
    October 29, 2018

    Dear Members of the University Community,

    With a heavy heart, I share our sympathy and solidarity with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh, in Scranton and across the globe. The full horror of yesterday’s mass shooting is only now beginning to be understood as we learn the stories of 11 individuals, one 97 years old, who lost their lives during worship services at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

    Some may say that prayers are inadequate in the face of such hate-fueled violence. Watching yesterday’s coverage and reflecting on the other troubling news this week, I understand the feeling. We must not, however, allow evil to shake our faith and our love. 

    As Catholics, we revere the Jewish tradition in which our own faith is rooted. As St. Paul tells us in his Letter to the Romans, “Theirs is the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the law and the worship and the promises; theirs are the fathers and from them is the Christ according to the flesh.”

    For this reason, the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate or “Our Times” famously made clear that we must condemn and oppose anti-Semitism in all its forms:

    “…in her rejection of every persecution against any [person], 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 against Jews at any time and by anyone.”

    I ask us all to dedicate ourselves as a community of faith grounded in love to answering acts of hate and violence with acts of love.


    Scott R. Pilarz, S.J.



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