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You are a beacon for us, Cardinal tells grieving mother

posted on 23 July 2005
The Archbishop of Westminster has praised the grieving mother of one of the victims of the 7 July bombing as “a beacon of light to guide our response to terrorism”.

The Cardinal gave his message to the parents of Anthony Fatayi-Williams, the 26-year-old victim of the Tavistock Square bus bomb on 7 July, at the conclusion of Anthony’s funeral at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday. The funeral Mass, which was packed with family members of the Nigerian, was presided ov er by Bishop Alan Hopes.

Tributes were paid to Anthony by his cousin, uncle, former employer and parish priest. Anthony was described as a “world citizen” who was kind, loving and fun, and who cared about injustice about the world.

The impassioned appeal by Anthony’s mother Marie in the days following the bombings inspired millions around the world.

“I am not angry,” Marie told reporters after the funeral. “Of course I am sad. I lost my only son. I am distraught, I am distraught. But I am not angry. I could be very angry. But if I was angry what would that do? Anger begets hatred, begets more violence, so let’s forgive.”

“If it takes a lot of maimed mothers’ hearts to do it,” she added, “to bring about peace, then it must be done.”

Marie, a committed Catholic who is married to a Muslim, has since spoken of her determination not to allow Anthony’s “sacrifice” to be in vain.

She and her husband Alan have set up a foundation for peace and conflict resolution in Anthony’s name, and has created a website (www.afw.org.uk) to promote it.

“God is not a wicked God,” she told the BBC yesterday. “For God to allow that to happen to Anthony, there must be a reason for it. And I’m searching for that reason. That’s what will make me accept his death.”

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor at the end of the funeral praised Anthony’s mother as a “beacon”.

You have spoken of Anthony as a sacrificial victim whose sacrifice must not be allowed to be in vain. You have spoken of plans to forge, in his name, bonds of forgiveness and understanding across the borders of hate and miscomprehension; and you have spoken, so movingly, of the need to reject violence, of the obligation to resist hatred of the perpetrators of the appalling acts which disfigured London on 7 July. By your words and actions you have set before us all a beacon of light to guide our response to terrorism, now and in the coming months.

In his homily, Bishop Hopes told the family: “Anthony’s was no ordinary death – this is no ordinary funeral.”

He went on: “This funeral Mass for Anthony, who died before his time, reminds us so much of the death of Jesus – an innocent victim, whose life was violently robbed from him by those who believed they were acting in the name of God.”

He told grieving relatives and friends: “Unwillingly you have been plunged into the heart of a crime against humanity, paying a price which is too enormous to calculate.”

Bishop Hopes quoted the words of Anthony’s mother, Marie, and praised her determination to use her son’s death to stop the killing. “His death has been a needless and terrible tragedy – as was the Lord’s – but from tragedy God the Father brings resurrection, hope and eternal bliss of heaven.”

The homily ended with a prayer that Anthony’s death “may not be meaningless but inspire us in some way to desire and to work for peace in all areas of human life”.

Marie’s brother, Chief Tom Ikimi, said in Anthony “they hit the wrong target. He has done no one any wrong. See what you have done, mr bomber.”

The Fatayi-Williams family chose the following readings at the funeral: Wisdom 4:7-15 (“The virtuous man, though he die before his time, will find rest”), Romans 8:31-35, 37-39 (“With God on our side, who can be against us?”, and Matthew 5:1-12 (“Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted”).

CARDINAL’S MESSAGE IN FULL

BEGINS

I am glad to be with you to express personally my deepest sympathy with you both on the tragic death of your son, Anthony. His many friends and relatives have come to pay tribute to him, to comfort and console you, helping you to understand that his life was a generous gift of God, a gift which you nurtured and honoured. The pain of Anthony’s loss is huge; no words can express it. But within the pain of his loss is also the joy of knowing how Anthony touched so many lives. That is why, as you mourn, you will also celebrate.

I want to say a word especially to you, Marie, at this time, to thank you for the extraordinary witness to Jesus Christ which you have given the world in the days since knowing of Anthony’s disappearance.

You have spoken of Anthony as a sacrificial victim whose sacrifice must not be allowed to be in vain. You have spoken of plans to forge, in his name, bonds of forgiveness and understanding across the borders of hate and miscomprehension; and you have spoken, so movingly, of the need to reject violence, of the obligation to resist hatred of the perpetrators of the appalling acts which disfigured London on 7 July. By your words and actions you have set before us all a beacon of light to guide our response to terrorism, now and in the coming months.

I, and all who are here, will pray for the repose of Anthony’s soul. And I will pray for you and your family that you continue to show the resilience and compassion which you have exhibited in these days, in order that Anthony’s cruel death may indeed bear fruit in the recognition of God’s boundless love and mercy. May Anthony, and all of you here present, continue to sow the seeds of the peace that the world without faith cannot give.

You have my deepest sympathy and always the assurances of my prayers,

ENDS

Quotes from homily by Bishop Alan Hopes

“Anthony’s was no ordinary death – this is no ordinary funeral,” said Bishop Hopes. “This funeral Mass for Anthony, who died before his time, reminds us so much of the death of Jesus – an innocent victim, whose life was violently robbed from him by those who believed they were acting in the name of God.”

He told grieving relatives and friends: “Unwillingly you have been plunged into the heart of a crime against humanity, paying a price which is too enormous to calculate.”

He quoted the words of Anthony’s mother, Marie, and praised her determination to use her son’s death to stop the killing. “His death has been a needless and terrible tragedy – as was the Lord’s – but from tragedy God the Father brings resurrection, hope and eternal bliss of heaven.”

Bishop Hopes ended with a prayer that Anthony’s death “may not be meaningless but inspire us in some way to desire and to work for peace in all areas of human life”.
Contact Details:
Austen Ivereigh
Director for Public Affairs
Telephone: 020 7798 9045 or 07905 224860
posted on 23 July 2005

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