(…) As the Salesian Family, we are committed to nurture the young, to promote their best interests, and to share in their youthful enjoyment of innocent pleasures like sport and music. It hits all of us very hard to see children, teenagers and their families being deliberately targeted in the midst of a joyful event.
I'm deeply aware of the accusations of hollow words and platitudes levelled at some of those who try to offer faith-based comfort in 140 characters, and the retorts that religion is the cause of the world's misery. But these are times when we simply have no words of our own. They are times when we truly can find comfort in our religion when it just can't be found anywhere else. It is hatred, fear and a lust for power distorted into 'religion' that causes our troubles.
At a vigil in Bury the other night, the mother of a young woman who was killed desperately pleaded for unity, asking everyone to be strong and stand together. "Please don't let my daughter be a victim", she said. Jesus told us to turn the other cheek. In our grief, refusing to be manipulated into blind anger and vengeance is not a meek act - it takes great strength and it's another kind of defiance.
The terrible incident in Manchester brought out the best in so many people, with locals opening their homes to people stranded far from their own, off-duty medical staff racing to help, taxi drivers - many of them Muslims, giving free rides to get frightened people away from the carnage, homeless men helping injured kids, and shops and cafes feeding people without charge.
(…) Our faith can't bring back those who have been killed in these vicious, criminal attacks; it can't explain why innocent young people with so much joy and potential in them have been horrifically murdered and maimed. But it can teach us how to cope with the grief; to manage the anger; to show love and compassion in every way we can; to go on reaching out to our fellow human beings; and to pray - because the world has rarely stood in so much need of prayer.