Faith leader: ‘We cry out in anguish for every life lost’

By Joyce Duriga
Sunday, July 24, 2016

Faith leader: ‘We cry out in anguish for every life lost’

A flag flies at half-staff in Daley Plaza as people gathered July 19 for an interfaith prayer service for peace. The Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago sponsored the service. The flag at half-staff was in honor of police officers killed in Dallas and Baton Rouge. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
From right, Imam Kareem Irfan, Father Thomas Baima, Viatorian Father Mark Francis and Rohinton Rivetna of the Zoroastrian community read from the program during the service, which included prayers and hymns for peace from different religious traditions. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
Participants hold hands and sing at the end of the service. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
Father Thomas Baima, vicar for ecumenical and religious affairs for the Archdiocese of Chicago reads from Scripture during the service. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
About 75 people gathered for the lunchtime service July 19. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)

“As faith representatives of this great country we reaffirm that every life is equally precious regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender or nationality,” proclaimed Imam Kareem Irfan in his impassioned remarks in Daley Plaza on July 19. “Regardless of the color of our skin or the color of our uniforms, we cry out in anguish and pain for every life lost, every family torn apart, for every future destroyed by the indiscriminate violence that is rampant today.”

Irfan delivered his remarks as part of the annual prayer service for peace sponsored by the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago. The event took on added gravity this year in light of recent domestic attacks in Orlando, Dallas and Baton Rouge and the attacks in Turkey and Nice, France.

“Let us commit to acting together as a nation toward lasting peace for all,” he told those gathered in the plaza at noon.

Leaders from various faith traditions participated including the Society of Friends (Quakers), Baha’i, Islam, Zoroastrian, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity. Father Thomas Baima, vicar for ecumenical and interreligious affairs for the Archdiocese of Chicago, and Viatorian Father Mark Francis, president of Catholic Theological Union, represented the Catholic community during the service.

Leaders read prayers and reflections praying for peace in hearts, homes, neighborhoods, the nation and the world.

Archbishop Cupich joined in calls for peace when he issued statements relating to the recent tragedies. Of the July 14 attack on people gathered for Bastille Day in Nice, France, he said, “Let us not succumb to the temptation to despair or to a fear that divides us. Rather let us honor the memory of these men, women, and children by renewing our sense of unity and solidarity.”

Of the July 7 attack on police officers in Dallas, he said, “It is time to break the cycle of violence and retaliation, of fear and powerlessness that puts more guns in our homes and on our streets. Our hearts and minds need to change so our country can change.”

Of the July 17 attack on police in Baton Rouge, he said, “These times test our highest principles, as Americans, as believers. But we have been tested before. And we will be again. Passing such trials will require us to hold fast to our values of peace, tolerance, liberty, equality and love of neighbor — the very values perpetrators of violence seek to undermine.”

For the complete text of his statements, visit


  • peace
  • interfaith
  • non-violence

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