As the bells tolled at Sacred Hearts parish Friday in remembrance of the victims of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there were mothers with tears in their eyes.
“It was a very solemn and prayerful moment,” said the Rev. John Delaney, pastor at Sacred Hearts in the Bradford section of Haverhill. “People have taken the whole story to heart, thinking about how people can hurt others and the loss of innocent lives.”
Delaney and other local clergy said the murders of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14 have people asking “Where was God?” and “Why would God allow such a tragedy to happen?”
“God is present in the world and he does not allow things like this to happen,” he said.
Ministers said God gave humans free will which they can use to do good or evil, and many chose to do the latter.
“Even though God is awesome, he gave everyone free will, and if people chose to do evil, it’s not God, it’s the devil working through people,” said Pastor Sean Theodore of Abundant Grace Church in Derry, N.H.
The Rev. Barbara Reifschneider, pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Lawrence agreed.
“There’s a natural order in the world and evil does exist,” Reifschneider said. “At these moments, we feel God’s love healing us and giving us strength. God is weeping with us, and is up to us to do his work of mercy so we can make the world a better place, and that’s the important part.”
The Rev. Martin Hyatt, at St. Basil Seminary in Methuen, echoed Reifschneider’s words.
“God didn’t do it. He is weeping with us and when I see the news, I see Jesus suffering on the cross all over again,” Hyatt said.