Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the apostolic nuncio leading the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations, on Tuesday addressed a symposium which examined how to support victims of terrorism. Calling terrorism a “direct affront to humanity,” he encouraged the work of grief counseling and spiritual support centers that help break the “continuous cycles of violence.”
Archbishop Migliore said the meeting would help address the “fundamental needs” of terrorism victims, whether their needs are physical, mental, or spiritual.
“Terrorist acts deny people not only their fundamental human rights but also strike at the very heart of the things we hold close: our families, our homes and our basic trust in humanity,” he said. “By hearing the voices of victims and remembering those whose voices have been taken, we are given the opportunity of finding ways to rebuild lives, alleviate suffering and end the senseless cycles of violence and hatred.”
The archbishop noted that Pope John Paul II had called for a day of fasting and solidarity in support of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attack on New York City and Washington, D.C. and to encourage “healing among various faiths and cultures.”
The Holy See and Catholic organizations, Archbishop Migliore explained, have helped terrorism victims around the world with immediate assistance, counseling, food, security and shelter.
“The direct involvement of these organizations demonstrates yet again the valuable contribution of civil society organizations to promoting human rights and human dignity,” the archbishop said.
Noting that the long-term spiritual and psychological effects of terrorism should also be addressed, Archbishop Migliore praised grief counseling and spiritual support centers both for helping victims and for helping prevent reprisals and continued violence.
“Programs which provide restorative justice to the victims of terrorism help to alleviate the continuous cycles of violence, hatred and mistrust,” he said.
Deeming debates about the identity of the victims and the perpetrators of terrorist activities necessary for anti-terrorism strategy, the archbishop nevertheless urged that such debates should not “cloud or obfuscate the urgency to address the immediate needs of those whose lives and livelihoods are lost by this direct affront to humanity.”
“In the end,” Archbishop Migliore concluded, “terrorist activity does nothing to promote authentic political or social aims but only ensures the creation of more victims. Whether these victims are created as a result of initial terrorist activity or as a result of indiscriminate reactions to terrorist actions, the cycle of violence begets only suffering, fear and hatred. While we rightly condemn all acts of terrorism, care must be taken in order to give a voice to those whose voices have been wrongfully taken.”