Women attend a candlelight vigil Aug. 6 at the Sikh Temple in Brookfield, Wis., in memory of the victims of a mass shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis.
Our world and nation have suffered horrors with greater numbers as of late, but the shooting at a Wisconsin Sikh temple is especially incomprehensible. There, a gunman opened fire on a peaceful people who were only worshiping God.
We as a nation now have a duty to search our souls and to learn about Sikhism and other faiths.
Founded more than 500 years ago in northern India, the Sikh religion has a following of more than 20 million. Followers aim to foster devotion and remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, human equality and social justice. Sikhs believe that people of different races, religions, or sex are equal in the eyes of God. The temples, called Gurdwaras, offer free meals to people in need, no matter their faith.
Clearly, Sikhism makes a positive contribution to American communities and now deserves our support more than ever. There are Sikh communities in Oregon and Southwest Washington and we stand in solidarity with them.
The Secretariat for Interreligious and Ecumenical Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been in dialogue with the U.S. Sikh Community since 2006.
“In this time of grief, we Catholics mourn with our Sikh brothers and sisters,” said a statement last week from the U.S. bishops. “We share a warm and fruitful friendship, as well as a love of God and a belief in the community of all people.”
We stand with our Sikh brothers and sisters in condemning violence and religious intolerance. And we weep with them. That is no stretch for the followers of Jesus, who taught that we are to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.
"The cruel consequences of religiously motivated violence are only too evident to us all," Pope Benedict wrote in his 2011 book on Jesus. "Violence does not build up the Kingdom of God, the kingdom of humanity."