9/11 10th Anniversary Is a Day for Remembering, Not Forgetting

PHOTO: Alma Carrasco, left, and Cassandra Fradera of NY who lost classmates in the terrorist attacks pray and weep as they look at the WTC site.
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One of the first responders at the World Trade Center on 9/11 was Father Mychal Judge.

The mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, asked the priest to offer prayers for the victims of the unfolding catastrophic event. Judge was in the North Tower doing just that when the South Tower collapsed, spewing debris that killed him, the first recorded victim of the attack.

Who can forget the firefighters carrying his cruciform body out of the rubble, an image that some have called an American Pieta?

One person who has seemingly forgotten is the present mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who essentially has banned priests and all clergy from the 10th anniversary commemoration of 9/11.

His excuse for doing so is to keep speeches to a minimum.

The more hidden agenda seems to be an attempt not to offend any one religion by banning them all.

Some have suggested that a related underlying issue is the fear of inviting an imam or other representative of Islam, thus sparking more unwanted controversy.

Once again, this is misguided political correctness gone terribly awry. We cannot ignore that the horrific events of Sept. 11 had their genesis in myopic and fanatical religious views.

Those who perpetrated the heinous acts did so because they hated those of other religions not their own.

They believed that the "infidels" needed to be destroyed.

Now we seem intent on handing the murderers one more victory by excluding from the 10th anniversary commemoration the very religious expression that they railed against on that fateful day.

Like it or not, we are a country of believers for whom faith matters. In the aftermath of Sept. 11, prayer gatherings were all that many had to sustain them through dark and confusing days.

During that time, while working in a triage center close to ground zero, I and many other clergy members spoke to scores who were struggling for meaning through the lens of their faith -- many deeming the destruction unfathomable in light of a beneficent God from whom they expected better.

The 10th anniversary of 9/11 is a day to remember who we were and who we have become -- the majority of us are people of faith. It is not a day to pretend that we are nihilistic agnostics.

It is true that in these 10 years the religious issues dividing us have only intensified, but now is the time to recall that we are more than our differences.

Clergy need not give eloquent speeches or grandstand at the anniversary commemoration. Rather, they might simply lift us up in a united faith in the one God whom together we still struggle to understand and embrace.

Father Edward L. Beck, C.P., is a religion contributor for ABC News and the executive producer and host of "The Sunday Mass" on the ABC Family Channel.

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