A Catholic Response to Mosque Tragedy in Christchurch

  1. CathNews NZ and Asia Pacific


John Murphy together

Monday, March 18th, 2019

Brenton Tarrant’s manifesto is unbelievably offensive.

It talks about the supremacy of the European people and deporting all non-Europeans. He says he decided to take a stand to ensure a future for ‘my’ people.

‘The White Genocide’ is how he refers to his actions; he labels himself as a part-time kebab removalist.

Tarrant says he carried out the attack, to most of all show the invaders that our lands will never be their lands, and to directly reduce immigration rates to European lands by intimidating and physically removing the invaders themselves and to incite violence, retaliation and further divide between the European people and the invaders currently occupying European soil.

He says he’s taking revenge in New Zealand for events that happened elsewhere in the world.

The manifesto ends with: “Europa arises.”


As a Church, over the years we’ve had our issues with differences in creeds.

Catholics were told there was no salvation outside the Catholic Church and interpreted this as there were only Catholics in heaven.

We make light of it now; I’m sure we’ve all heard or read Irish comedian Dave Allen about St Peter showing a person around heaven and saying to be quiet around the Catholics because they think they’re the only ones there.

For most of her life my mother was an Anglican.

As an Anglican, she was the one who heard our Catechism questions and knew more of the Catechism than either my sister or me.

My mother was also an excellent cake decorator and not long after Vatican II, the ecumenical Council, the Brigidine Sisters at St Benedict’s school in Wellington asked her to decorate our first Holy Communion cake.

A non-Catholic decorating a first Holy Communion cake! It raised some parish eyebrows.

I consider having a non-Catholic mother as one of the greatest blessings in my life. She and my father taught me religious difference could work.

  • Difference often makes us look twice.
  • Difference makes us think.
  • Difference may even confront.
  • Difference was in part the reason for Jesus’ crucifixion.

And, just when you thought the examples were over; “that was then and this is now”, our church’s dealing with difference is perhaps not so historic. For example, relatively recently we changed the words of consecration, so now Jesus’ blood is not shed for ‘all’ but just for ‘many,’ the few.

Thumbs up to Egg Boy

Whatever the liturgical semantics, being different does not give anyone the right to senselessly slaughter another. Nor does it give Australian senator, Fraser Anning the right to blame Friday’s mass murder on Muslim migration. Please Mr Anning. There is no excuse.

Australia, you can keep Tarrant and Anning. Whereas, there is an open invitation to, “Egg Boy”, the 17 year old William Connolly, to come to New Zealand any time.

The people who died in Christchurch on Friday were in what they thought was a safe place, with their God. Tarrant’s actions crossed religious lines.

Tarrant crossed ethnic lines. He also crossed the line of what it means to be human.

The impact of Tarrant’s actions was also felt beyond the Christchurch boundary line, and friends of mine, immigrants, here long enough to be New Zealand citizens, but who on Saturday were so scared they were holed-up in their Wellington home.

They didn’t come to New Zealand for this, nor did they come to see other people on social media “liking” Tarrant’s live video stream and witness others giving a “thumbs up” to his manifesto.

What can we learn from Friday?

Is there is something we can learn from what happened?

In time, there are bound to be many “learnings”, but as a start, as fellow human beings, let’s use this Christchurch horror as a reminder to be less judgmental, to understand a way of life that may seem foreign to us and in a society dominated by fences and boundaries, let’s try to appropriately reach out.

Christians familiar with the letter of St James, will remember that faith without actions, is dead.

Also, when we read the Scriptures, God’s voice is sometimes heard, as it was on Sunday. The account of the Transfiguration ends: “This is my Son, the chosen one. Listen to him.”

At no point does Jesus condone murder, racism, or hate.

We are all different from each other but in this together.

Let our actions speak volumes.

  • John Murphy is a Marist priest working in communications and new media.


Father John Murphy, Roman Catholic priest, son of an Anglican mother, is well-placed to speak of diversity in religion. His view, however, is broader than the Christian divide. He is able to remind us that ALL humanity is created by the One God, and Muslims are our neigbours not only in faith but in our local communities. No-one should be targetted for their difference from anyone else, and it is this fear of difference – the fear of ‘The Other’ – that is the source of misplaced suspicion and violence, such as has occurred in Christchurch, recently.

As people of Faith, we have a duty to recognise and uphold that which, in other people, is upbuilding of community and togetherness. Sadly, the Church is not always the best advocate of the Love of the God-in-Christ we profess to worship and follow. To follow Christ is to undertake the path of action which he himself brought into focus in his own lifetime – an overturning of the world’s valuation of humanity that depends on their prosperity and intrinsic worth in terms of what ‘they’ can do for us; by raising up the poor and the afflicted; the marginalised and the ‘Other’; who is in any way different from ourselves

I was reminded of the Christian tendency to regard oneself as the primary focus of God’s Love, care and attention. Contrarily, the intention of Jesus was to redeem all who knew themselves to be needy of the Father’s Love. I guess, when we analyse it, deep down, this is the desire of each one of us;, equally valued and loved by God. We need to respect and value this possibility for other people as well as ourselves.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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