Ingersheim, France – Along with our country and its population, we are under the shock of the recent events of terrorist attacks against the journalists of Charlie Hebdo, police officers and Jewish citizens in Paris. People’s emotions are varied, ranging from anger expressed about these acts and toward their perpetrators, to the fear of insecurity and how the situation might unfold, or to sadness, uneasiness or confusion.
We think of those who died and pray for their families and close friends. We are in mourning. The demonstrations that happened in many cities witnessed to people’s desire to live together in peace. Indignation is understandable and should encourage the refusal of indifference in regard to other tragedies throughout the world.
This drama also encourages us to reflect on the state of our country, on the deeply-rooted causes that lead some people to extremism: the feeling of abandonment by underprivileged populations, the absence of constructive reference points, the weakening of social relationships, military interventions, etc.
Beyond these circumstances, we fear the possible consequences for our country: mistrust and tension, that could lead to hateful acts, a politics of "security", demonization of enemies. The present atmosphere includes the risk of encouraging those who already attempt to arouse hatred towards foreigners and our muslim co-citizens.
In response to this deteriorated climate, Christians and Churches are called to respond in the manner of their Lord. To hatred, Jesus responded with love, to violence with non-violence, to those excluded, he reached out, to massacres, he called to conversion.
It is Jesus’ way of acting that should guide us and incite us to respond to evil by practicing good. May we take the initiative to show respect, friendship and hospitality. May we refuse to spread lies and destructive clichés, may we denounce any encouragement to prejudice, and to fear coloured by racism. Let us collaborate with others to favour peace in our society.
Let us take initiatives to go towards those who feel excluded, especially youth, may we dialogue with our Jewish and Muslim compatriots so as to learn how to truly live together.
In the present situation, all churches and all Christians are called in a new way to be peacemakers and to work for justice.
16 January, 2015 press release from Association des Églises Évangéliques Mennonites de France (French Mennonite Conference), signed by the President and members of the Executive Committee, the Faith and Life Commission and the Peace Commission