Churchgoers around the United States once again marked the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks with moments of silence, special prayer services and Masses.
Attending a meeting of the U.S. bishops’ Administrative Committee Sept. 11 in Washington, D.C., Cardinal Dolan said he and his brother bishops remembered all those who perished and their families at a Mass at the U.S. bishops’ conference headquarters.
Official ceremonies took place at the sites in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania where four hijacked planes crashed 17 years ago, claiming the lives of 2,996 people (including the 19 hijackers).
Two planes flew into the World Trade Center in New York, bringing down the twin towers and killing office workers and other staff in the buildings, emergency first responders and people fleeing in the streets.
Another plane crashed into the Pentagon in Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. and a fourth airliner went down in a field near Shanksville, Pa.
President Donald Trump spoke at anniversary ceremonies at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville. Vice President Mike Pence addressed a crowd at the Pentagon.
Three days earlier, on Sept. 8, the cardinal celebrated Mass at historic St. Peter’s Church in lower Manhattan. The “venerable church,” he noted in a statement, had “served as a sanctuary, first-aid station, hospice, relief center and even a mortuary” on 9/11 and for many days afterward.
It was there that the body of Father Mychal Judge, the fire department chaplain, among the first to die in the attack, “was reverently placed upon the altar.” The Franciscan priest died ministering to victims in the rubble of the World Trade Center.
During Mass at St. Peter’s, Cardinal Dolan said, the congregation “prayerfully remembered with sorrow, reverence and love those who had perished that unforgettable day, and their families who still grieve, along with those who have since lost their lives due to illnesses contracted during the rescue and recovery efforts that followed.”
The attacks have claimed the lives of a number of people who helped clear the wreckage afterward, as cancer and other conditions caused by toxic smoke have begun to emerge.
Cardinal Dolan recalled that nine years ago he was in New York for his first 9/11 anniversary observance, some months after he was installed as archbishop of New York. He was at St. Peter’s then too.
“Never will I forget the wise comment of the pastor at the time, Father Kevin Madigan,” Cardinal Dolan said. The priest told him: “9/11 was Good Friday again here in New York; but the story we need to remember is actually 9/12, a real Easter, as this community rose in rescue, relief, support, rallying and rebuilding.”
In 2015, during his pastoral trip to the United States, Pope Francis visited the site of the 9/11 attacks in lower Manhattan. He said the grief remained “palpable.”—CNS