Cardinal O’Malley prays for Marathon bombing victims, preaches forgiveness at Boston service

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 21: Boston Police Department Superintendents William Evans (R) and Kevin Buckley (L) attend Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on the first Sunday after the Boston Marathon bombings on April 21, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Mass honored the victims of the bombings and subsequent manhunt as well as first responders. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Boston police superintendents Kevin Buckley and William Evans attended the Mass.Mario Tama/Getty Images

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley preached forgiveness at a packed Mass today at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, where those killed and injured in the Boston Marathon bombings were remembered.

“Forgiveness does not mean that we do not realize the heinousness of the crime,” he elaborated to reporters afterward. “But, in our hearts, when we are unable to forgive, we make ourselves a victim of our own hatred.”

“The crimes of two young men must not be justification for prejudice against Muslims, or against enemies. The Gospel is the antidote for the ‘eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth’ mentality,” he said during the homily.

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O’Malley added after the Mass that he did not support the death penalty for Dzhokhkar Tsarnaev, 19, the bombing suspect who remains hospitalized.

“There are other ways of punishing people, and protecting society, without killing them,” he said.

In an opening prayer for the service, O’Malley said, “We pray for all victims of violence here in Boston” this week.

Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis and other top police officials sat in the first pew, near where President Obama had participated in an interfaith healing service on Thursday.

In his 15-minute homily, O’Malley paid tribute to the Boston police, firefighters, and others who responded to the victims in last Monday’s bombing. He also thanked those involved in the manhunt that followed to catch the suspected bombers.

“This week, we are all scattered in the pain and horror of the senseless violence, “ O’Malley said calmly.

The widespread pain felt by many could be soothed by the compassion and generosity displayed by so many people this week, he said.

“Everyone has been profoundly affected by the wanton violence and destruction inflicted ... by two young men unknown to so many of us,” he said to a silent congregation.

“It is difficult to understand what was going on in their minds.”

But he said Bostonians should take take heart in the response of residents. “It was amazing to see how much good and generosity was evident in this community,” he said.

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