Bishop Pierre Whalon concerning the attack on Charlie Hebdo

[Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe] Bishop Pierre Whalon of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe has issued a statement following the Jan. 7 terrorist attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. The statement follows in English and French.

As spontaneous gatherings of solidarity with the victims are happening in dozens of cities across France even as I pen these words, it should be clear to all that this attempt to divide and intimidate people has failed. Certainly, Charlie Hebdo is adept at satirizing religion, including my own. It also routinely makes fun of all sorts of other subjects and people. This is their right. Freedom of expression is the only guarantor of liberty, including the freedom of worship, however.

After the cowardly attack here in Paris today on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which included the cold-blooded execution of a wounded police officer, the first voices to express their outrage were Muslim leaders. Among them was Imam Hassen Chalghoumi, whom I have known and admired for many years. I join with him in deploring this ungodly attack, “unworthy of Islam,” and echo his call not to confuse Muslims with the “criminals” who perpetrated this vile act.

I call on all people of good will to pray as they feel able for the repose of the victims, for their families and friends whose lives will never be the same again. We must ask for healing for the wounded as well. We must also pray for the assassins, that they turn from violence and accept judgment. And our prayers must be accompanied by acts to help the nation heal and grow stronger in solidarity. ‘We are all Charlie.’

Déclaration de Mgr Pierre W. Whalon concernant l’attentat contre Charlie Hebdo 

[PARIS] 7 janvier 2015 – Alors même que j’écris ces mots, des manifestations spontanées pour les victimes se déroulent partout en France, montrant que cette tentative de division et d’intimidation a échoué. Charlie Hebdo est un journal satirique, certes, une revue qui se moque des religions, y compris la mienne. Mais il se moque également de toutes sortes de sujets et de personnalités. Ils sont dans leurs droits. La liberté d’expression est le seul garant de la liberté elle-même, y compris la liberté de culte.

Après l’attentat couard ici à Paris aujourd’hui contre la revue, avec l’exécution à bout portant d’un policier blessé, les premières voix à s’élever pour exprimer leurs colères étaient les imams musulmans. Parmi eux se trouvait l’Imam Hassen Chalghoumi, que je connais et que j’admire depuis des années. Je le rejoins pour déplorer cette attaque impie, “indigne de l’islam,” et je répète son appel de ne pas faire l’amalgame entre ces “criminels” et l’islam.

J’appelle toute personne de bonne volonté de prier pour le repos des victimes, pour leurs familles et leurs amis, dont la vie a changé ce matin pour toujours. Il nous faut aussi prier pour les assassins, qu’ils se retournent contre la violence et se rendent. Et nous devons aussi accompagner nos prières par l’action, pour que la nation puisse guérir et la solidarité se renforcer. ‘Nous sommes tous Charlie.’


  1. Patricia Nakamura says:

    Thank you, Bishop Whalon. We all must speak out against such travesties of religion as invoking the name of God/ Allah/ Adonai to justify murder.

  2. Fanny Belanger says:

    This is a terrible tragedy, and we are all chocked and traumatized by such an outburst of violence. Yet, I would not say Charlie Hebdo embodies freedom of speech. The newspaper has deliberately and repeatedly be insulting to Muslims (and Christians), not only to the extremists but also to the faithful ones. The journalists would never deserve such an awful fate, yet to be fair I think we need also to acknowledge their own violence, not in their acts, but in their words. France has a long tradition of secularism that often tends to intolerance towards the believers (I feel allowed to say this because I am French). The whole situation is very, very sad.

  3. Elizabeth Hendrick says:

    Thank you, Bishop Pierre for this very thoughtful statement.

  4. Kent Blacklidge says:

    We must face the fact there is a war between radical Islam and a free world….. and call it for what it is. What I don’t see is what should be very visible, very aggressive, and very effective push back from Islam followers who condemn violence and domination by radicals.

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