Local Religious Leaders Discuss Sandy Hook Elementary Tragedy
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It is nearly impossible to look at the photos of the children who died at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School and not ask, “Why would God allow this to happen?” or “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
“It’s the toughest question we have as people of faith,” says Rev. Lou Hays, of St. Paul’s in Mount Lebanon.
Rev. Hays was with the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut before coming to St. Paul’s. Benjamin Wheeler, one of the children who died, was part of the Newtown Episcopal Parish.
Rev. Hays believes that God was there at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday.
“Think of Victoria Soto, 27-year-old teacher who laid down her life for her sheep, and not one of her flock was lost,” Rev. Hays said.
For others of faith, the answer – if there is an answer – is free will, according to Bishop David Zubik of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.
“To say that God would allow something to happen, that’s completely out of the realm of possibility,” said Bishop Zubik. “God only wants what’s good. But it’s the personal freedom, how people use it is how that evil really comes into the world.”
Another victim, Noah Pozner, a Jewish child was buried on Monday.
Rabbi Michael Werbow, of Congregation Beth Shalom in Squirrel Hill, also cites free will.
“An individual who had free will to decide upon what he wanted to do unfortunately took this action, and I feel like where’s God in the picture? God’s alongside those who are mourning,” Rabbi Werbow says. “God’s alongside each and every one of us, holding our hand and crying at the same time we are.”
And Rev. Dr. William Curtis, of Mt. Ararat Baptist Church in Larimer, asks another question.
“So with the tragedy that just took place, the greater question is, how can we better manage human relationships – and can we teach people to treat human relationships with greater value,” Rev. Curtis said.
Or, says Rev. Hays, perhaps even turn the question around.
“Why do we have unfettered access to these assault weapons? Why do we do such a horrible job of providing mental health services in identifying and helping people before they can cause such great harm?” Rev. Hays added.
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