Sydney's Cardinal Pell on 9/11 Anniversary

«May the Next 10 Years Not Be As Hard As the Last»

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SYDNEY, SEPT. 12, 2011 ( Here is the column written by Cardinal George Pell on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The article was published in Sydney’s The Sunday Telegraph.

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When I stumbled down to breakfast the morning after the attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001, I first thought the headlines were a spoof or an advertisement. The TV pictures seemed to be from a horror film.

Tragically, the horror was all too real. More than 3,000 people were killed at the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, and in the hijacked planes, including UA 93 which crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers fought the hijackers.

Ten years later, where are we?

Firstly, it is clear that Islamist terrorism poses no significant threat to the pre-eminence of
American power for the foreseeable future.

The attacks provoked a financially and morally debilitating over-reaction in the invasion of Iraq. Despite the democratic gains, this was one US war too many, its tragic consequences exacerbated by a scandalous lack of preparation for governing and transitioning to Iraqi rule after the war.

The Global Financial Crisis and the crisis of continuing indebtedness are more of a threat to the US today than terrorism.

There was nothing automatic about the limited number of successful terrorist attacks in the West since 9/11 – Bali in 2002, Madrid in 2004, London in 2005. This was a product of hard and successful counter terrorist work, here in Australia too.

Good relations with Muslim Australians is one of our best achievements. Dialogue between different faiths has increased since 2001 and continues. The overwhelming majority of Australian Muslims refuse to embrace Islamist violence. It is a good recipe to continue in the future.

Terrorist forces have been badly weakened, but this can produce dangerous random attacks. Vigilance remains indispensible.

There are many uncertainties. Western and Australian troops remain in Afghanistan ten years after overthrowing the Taliban. What will follow their departure is unclear.

The «Arab Spring» has overthrown dictators in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. They will not be
lamented, least of all Libya’s murderous Gaddafi.

The situation in the Middle East is delicately balanced, with Islamist parties confident and well-organized. Assad’s brutality will probably ensure his survival in Syria.

Christians are under pressure and many are leaving. Iraqi Catholics and Egypt’s Copts have suffered increased persecution.

Turkey’s shift to Islamism is part of a deteriorating situation, which may see Israel surrounded by more hostility.

Against this, American vitality is unimpaired and the resolve of the West to confront terrorism is strong.

May the next 10 years not be as hard as the last.

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