Shock and anger expressed across the country after hate attack on Muslim family

St. Peter's Cathedral Basilica in London, ON; Bishop Fabbro of the London diocese has sent condolences to the Muslim community dealing with the attack that killed four family members June 6. (Wikipedia photo by Jfvoll)

[Updated June 10, 2021]

Canadian Catholics reach out to Muslims in wake of London attack

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[London, ON. – CCN]  – Faith communities and politicians are condemning an attack on a Muslim family in London, Ontario, that police have labeled a hate crime.

The targeted killing June 6 claimed the lives of four members of a Muslim family and left a nine-year-old boy in serious condition. London Police believe the family was targeted because of their Muslim faith. The driver of the vehicle has been arrested and faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ executive committee Thursday issued a statement calling for an end to religious violence in Canada and specifically hatred against Jews and Muslims.

The statement, signed by CCCB President Archbishop Richard Gagnon, said the bishops “adamantly object to all forms and expressions of hatred and they strongly denounce the recent violence seen in Canada against the Jewish People and Muslims, for which there can be no possible justification ever.”

The statement was endorsed by Bishop John A. Boissonneau and Archbishop Paul-André Durocher representing the CCCB’s Canadian Rabbinic Caucus Bilateral Dialogue.

The bishops note “a disturbing rise in harmful and violent acts against the Jewish People and Muslims” in recent weeks, including “offensive slurs, prejudice, hostility, and even terror claiming lives.”

The bishops appealed to “the minds and hearts of the Catholic faithful, and all people of good will, to denounce Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and all similar forms of extremism and violence against fellow human beings of all faith traditions.”

The statement includes prayer for “an increase in tireless, sincere and constructive dialogue, greater understanding, social harmony, and mutual respect, in order that Canadians from all backgrounds, faith traditions and cultures may live not as strangers or adversaries, but peacefully as brothers and sisters.”

The Archdiocese of Toronto released a statement June 7 condemning the fact that Canadians appear to have been targeted for death because of their faith.

The archdiocese offered “prayers and sincere condolences following the violent death of four family members in London, Ontario, targeted for their faith.”

“We join the Muslim community, London Mayor Ed Holder, and all those who condemn this heinous act of violence.”

London Bishop Ronald Fabbro pledged that Catholics will work with the Muslim community to root out hate wherever it exists.

“I am horrified by the hate-motivated killing of an innocent Muslim family in London,” Bishop Fabbro said. “I unconditionally condemn acts of hatred and violence. People of all faiths, and all people, should always feel safe, everywhere in our country.

“The Catholic community in London offers our support to our Muslim brothers and sisters, pledging to work together with them to end crimes of hate,” Bishop Fabbro said. “I ask the faithful of the Diocese to keep the family of those killed and their community in our prayers, asking God to bring them comfort in this time of grief and to grant the full recovery of the survivor.”

The same sentiments were expressed by the leaders of all political parties in the House of Commons on June 8, when party leaders made statements condemning what police in London, Ontario, allege was a premeditated hate crime.

“There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act, motivated by hate,” London Police Detective Superintendent Paul Waight told a press conference on June 7, after a 20-year-old man who was later arrested plowed into a Muslim family that was taking a family walk in their neighbourhood on the evening of June 6.

“We can not allow any form of hate to take root,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in the House of Commons on June 8. “We must confront the ugly face of hatred.

“We know we need to look truth in the face, this hatred does exist in our country,” he said of those who dismiss the idea that racism is a fact of life for many Canadians of different races and faiths in 2021.

“We must understand the anxiety and fear that our fellow Canadians face just when they go outside,” Trudeau said. “Racism exists in Canada.”

Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole called the killings in London a “brutal act of terror” in the House of Commons and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, who is Sikh and wears a turban, said that people such as himself know all too well what looking different or praying differently can mean in Canada.

“Will I be attacked today just because of the way I look,” Singh asked.

“This is our Canada, we can’t deny it,” he said of the level of racism that people of colour, of different faiths and that Indigenous Canadians face.

Singh, Bishop Fabbro and Prime Minister Trudeau were among the people expected to attend a vigil on the night of June 8 in London.

With B.C. Catholic files