The Lord’s Prayer from the Book of Matthew was broadcast across New Zealand today as thousands gathered to honor the 200 people killed in terrorist attacks at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, wearing a mitre in solidarity with the Pope, led the estimated 5,000 people at the massive prayer service at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch, where 50 Muslims were gunned down at two mosques a month ago.
“New Zealand mourns with you,” Ardern said in a short speech that was also streamed live in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. “We are one, so forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
New Zealanders across the small, broken-hearted nation paused when the prayer was done and then observed two minutes of silence.
Beyond Christchurch, thousands gathered at churches in Wellington, Auckland and other cities for the prayers, with many non-Christians wearing traditional religious clothing from the Bible.
In the wake of the Easter massacre, Ardern said she plans to ban nearly all military-style explosives.
“To owners who have legitimate uses for their explosives, I want to reiterate that the actions being announced today are not because of you and are not directed at you,” Ardern said. “Our actions, on behalf of all New Zealanders, are directed at making sure this never happens again.”