Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento released the following statement today condemning the murder of 11 people in an anti-Semitic attack on the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.
The appalling anti-Semitic attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue is abhorrent. Women and men gathering for prayer were attacked by the ferocious words and weapons of a perpetrator acting with ruthless animosity. This horrifying assault on the peaceful Jewish community belonging to the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh tears at the heart of all religious congregations. The terrifying rage on Saturday morning ravages the souls and consciences of all who believe in a God who embraces the whole of humanity with His mighty arms.
In chapter 2 of Genesis, God planted the tree of life in the middle of a garden as a sign of hope, God’s hope that all creation would find shelter under its verdant boughs. The synagogue in Pittsburgh had chosen that sign for their mission and dedicated themselves to living it out. What God has intended for His creation should be not undone by sins of hatred and violence. The tried and true religious traditions of prayer, mercy, and justice are still the best response and society’s best hope.
This heartless attack intended to threaten these worthy convictions. We must steady our shaken spirits by embracing our faith more firmly and summon our best ambitions to wage the peace with the tools of justice and mercy. We dare not let this dark moment poison our religious efforts nor allow other hateful endeavors to bully us into silence. We possess a common hope and purpose to build in our society a temple of living stones dedicated to the reverence and protection of all people created by a merciful God who made us to serve one another.
May we join our prayers with our Jewish brothers and sisters for the intentions of those who have suffered the assault in Pittsburgh and all their families. May our common efforts as people of faith sow the seeds of the Tree of Life throughout all of Northern California.