Family of Menezes 'Needs to Know the Truth', says Cardinal
posted on 30 July 2005
Referring to what he called 'the particular tragedy of the death of an innocent man at the hands of the state', the Archbishop of Westminster has called for a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the shooting by police of Jean-Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Station on 22 July.
He made his remarks last Friday evening at the conclusion of a Memorial Mass at Westminster Cathedral to commemorate the life of the 27-year-old Brazilian. The Mass was timed to coincide with Menezes's funeral in his home town of Gonzaga in Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Noting the apologies issued by police and the promise of an enquiry into the shooting, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said a thorough and impartial investigation was vital.
'The family and friends of Jean Charles need to know the truth, so there can be justice, forgiveness and healing,' he said. 'Britain, too, needs to know the truth of what happened last Friday. We must learn the right lessons from the tragic death of Jean-Charles, and put in place whatever changes are necessary.'
The Mass in Portuguese was led by the Brazilian chaplain in the Diocese of Westminster, Fr Federico Ribeiro, at whose church of Nossa Senhora da Aparecida Menezes was a regular parishioner.
The Mass began with speeches by a cousin and a friend of Menezes. The cousin, Alessandro Alves Pereira, described his death as a 'terrible mistake' and said the family was hoping for justice.
There was also a speech by the Goodwill Ambassador of the Council of Europe, Bianca Jagger. The Nicaraguan-born human rights activist likened the death of Menezes to that of Jesus Christ. Both were tradesmen, both innocent victims, and both died on a Friday in front of horrified onlookers, she said. She called for those responsible to be made accountable and quoted Pope John Paul II's call to 'overcome evil with good'.
Speeches were also made by interfaith representatives - a Muslim scholar and a rabbi.
Fr Ribeiro preached on John 15: 1 et seq.
'He made us proud to be Brazilian', the chaplain told the mostly Brazilian congregation.
At the conclusion of the Mass, a short message was read by the Archbishop of Southwark, in whose diocese Menezes lived and died. Archbishop Kevin McDonald praised the contribution of the Brazilian people to Britain and to his diocese.
Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor's message follows:
Address by the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, at the Memorial Mass for Jean-Charles de Menezes, Westminster Cathedral, 7pm, 29 July 2005
My dear friends,
I am very glad to be able to be with you today, to express my profound sympathy with the London family and friends of Jean Charles de Menezes; and particularly glad that this memorial Mass should be at Westminster Cathedral. It is fitting that we should be here remembering Jean Charles at the same time as his funeral in the town of Gonzaga in Minas Gerais in Brazil, so that we can unite our prayers with those of his immediate family for the repose of his soul.
In welcoming here today the members of the Brazilian Catholic community in London, I especially want to welcome those who worship at our parish of Nossa Senhora Aparecida here in London, and to thank the chaplain, Fr Frederick Ribeiro. I also want to thank the representatives of the Brazilian government here tonight for being here. The presence of the many tens of thousands of Brazilian people in London enormously enriches our economic, social and cultural life. To you all I want to say: BEMVINDO.
Jean-Charles came to this capital, like so many of our immigrant people, in search of a better life: to gain qualifications, to earn a just wage to support himself and his family, to return one day, perhaps, to Brazil and build a new future there. Jean Charles was from a distant land; but he became a Londoner, and that is how we will remember him.
We are all of us aware of the particular tragedy of the death of an innocent man at the hands of the state. To shock and grief is added a sense of injustice and indignation. The prime minster and the police have expressed their profound sadness and regret at the tragedy, and I want to welcome the thorough enquiry they have promised.
A thorough and impartial investigation is vital. The family and friends of Jean Charles need to know the truth, so there can be justice, forgiveness and healing. Britain, too, needs to know the truth of what happened last Friday. We must learn the right lessons from the tragic death of Jean-Charles, and put in place whatever changes are necessary.
In responding to the new threats in our midst, we must hold more firmly than ever to our laws, our freedoms and our principles. We must never allow ourselves to surrender to a logic of fear in which we have to resort to ever more drastic measures in order to combat terrorism. Jesus told us over and over not to be afraid. If Jean-Charles’s tragic death helps us to hear those words, and take them to our hearts, his death will not be in vain but will bear fruits.
Dear friends, I am very glad to be with you and to remember Jean Charles with you, and pray for the repose of his soul. May he rest in peace.