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Commentary: On Interfaith Relationships After 9/11

GU President Jack DeGioia reflects on the 10th anniversary

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 Georgetown University President Jack DeGioia, shown here at a World Economic Forum event in 2008, encourages faith leaders to continue interfaith efforts as the country commemorates 10 years since 9/11. 
World Economic Forum (http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldeconomicforum/3014458197/)
 Georgetown University President Jack DeGioia, shown here at a World Economic Forum event in 2008, encourages faith leaders to continue interfaith efforts as the country commemorates 10 years since 9/11. 

 

September 11, 2001 touched us deeply at Georgetown University. Those of us who were here during those days remember the smoke rising from the Pentagon, the sudden silence on D.C.’s busiest streets, the skies, empty.

Our own university community lost two dozen members, including 11 of our alumni, and a member of our faculty and her family. Like so many others throughout the nation, we will never forget any of the nearly 3,000 individuals who lost their lives that day, as well as their loved ones, the ones that they left behind.

We must never forget.

But we must also remember.

We remember our collective recognition -- across university campuses, in churches, in synagogues, and in mosques -- of the urgent need to know each other better. We recall the religious services and the interfaith vigils that followed September 11, 2001, and the renewed commitment made by so many to interfaith dialogue and to sharing knowledge across all religious traditions. 

It was in this knowledge -- with a deep respect for difference, yet a true understanding of the common goal among our faiths to create a world of justice, of peace, of freedom and of possibility -- that we began to take the first steps in the process of rebuilding. 

Ten years later, the profound need in our world for interfaith engagement and understanding is felt even more deeply. At Georgetown, as a Catholic and Jesuit university, we have joined together the resources of faith as well as intellect to bring our community into this work, and to act on our shared responsibility to care for one another, to empathize with those in need, and to dedicate our knowledge to service and the betterment of humankind. 

We must build on this work, each and every day. There is still a coarseness, an anger in our world that we must continue to address.

Yet we are confident that by returning to the spirit of togetherness awakened in us that day, we will go forward as we did ten years ago: united in our remembrance, undivided in our respect, in our compassion and in our love. 

Jack DeGioia is the president of Georgetown University.

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