Sept. 11 Changed New Yorkers Profoundly, Says Priest

Missionary Has Worked There for 43 Years

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NEW YORK, JAN. 10, 2002 (ZENIT.orgAvvenire).- Italian missionary Father Giuseppe Cogo, who has lived here for 43 years, said that New Yorkers have rediscovered the need for God after the Sept. 11 attacks.

«To say that everything will be as it was before, would be to hide behind a mask,» said Father Cogo, who works at Our Lady of Pompeii Parish near the Empire State Building.

«Consciences have been profoundly shaken here, to the point that people´s faces are no longer what they used to be,» he said. «It is inevitable that all experience a feeling of anxiety, including us, priests.»

«Although the lesson taught by the experience of death and sorrow has been educational for all,» the priest continued, «it is now a question of seeing if, after the terrible experience, the American people have realized that there can be no peace without global justice, as the Pope has emphasized several times.

«It would be illogical to say that following the collapse of the twin towers the city is the same as before. Something has changed irremediably within and outside Americans, who have been made aware of their vulnerability not only on the physical and security level, but also on the psychological and spiritual.»

The missionary said he felt the temptation to leave «given the difficult moment we have experienced, but I cannot abandon my people just now when my city is in such great need. I cannot leave the field of battle now when New York has discovered that it needs God and also these little foreign priests.»

Barely 40% of his parishioners are Americans. The majority are Asian, European or Latin American. «It is not by closing the doors to immigrants that Americans will do justice to the drama of these months,» he said.

In his parish office Father Cogo displays Mayor Rudolph Giuliani´s official recognition for his personal efforts and those of the parish during the Sept. 11 emergency.

«What counts are not diplomas, but having understood at last that one must learn to share with the rest of the world,» Father Cogo said.

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