Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington called on Tuesday for gratitude to be given to the law enforcement officials who are protecting the order of communities nationwide. “Enormous gratitude” is owed to police such as the late Officer Brian Moore of the New York Police Department, the cardinal said in his May 5 homily. “By all accounts he [Moore] was killed simply because he was a police officer.” Moore was fatally shot behind the wheel of his cruiser on May 3, after he noticed a suspect was acting suspiciously and asked him if he had a firearm. Such officers “are willing to stand between us and all the violence that Jesus spoke about when he said that the world can never give us real, true, meaningful peace if it does not first come from the heart that beats in tune with God’s command, love the Lord your God and one another.” The cardinal’s remarks came in his homily at the Blue Mass for law enforcement officers nationwide, said at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., shortly before National Police Week. Hundreds of local, state, and municipal police officers, firefighters, and first responders attended the Mass. The Blue Mass dates back to 1934, though it was not said annually until 1994 for all law enforcement officials. In 2014, 117 officers were killed in the United States, and 1,466 died in the line of duty in the last 10 years, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. The violence and conflict throughout the world only underline the need for law enforcement to keep the peace, Cardinal Wuerl added. “It is for this reason that this Blue Mass is so important,” he said. “The very fact that the message of love of God and love of neighbor can be proclaimed here in this Church and in faith communities across this country is because you are prepared to see that we are free.” The Mass came a week after violent riots in Baltimore, Maryland over the death there of 25 year-old Freddie Gray. Gray died a week after coming into police custody, and six police officers face charges, pressed by the state’s attorney for Baltimore. Outrage over the incident sparked a national debate over police brutality and policing tactics. Almost 100 police officers were injured in Baltimore riots that ensued. On Tuesday, Cardinal Wuerl insisted that “death, violence, hatred are not the answer and never have been.” The officers killed in the line of duty were working for a more just world, he added. “The lives of those we remember today were given in the greatest of all causes, to allow God’s love to work in all of us to build a truly good and just society, a world truly reflective of that command, love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself.”
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