Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Oregon, urged his followers on Facebook to practice Christ-like actions after a stabbing attack on a commuter train Friday left two people dead.
“I ask the faithful in western Oregon and all people to join me in taking some spiritual and practical actions in working towards peace and respect for those who make up this wonderful and diverse community,” Archbishop Sample wrote on Sunday.
Jeremy Joseph Christian, a 35-year-old convicted felon, shouted ethnic and religious slurs at two young women on the train, one of whom was described as wearing a Muslim head-covering, according to a statement from the Portland Police Department.
When three men attempted to intervene, Christian reportedly stabbed them before leaving the train. Ricky John Best, 53, died at the scene, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, died in hospital. Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, remains in hospital in Portland with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, according to the police statement. Best was a member of Christ the King parish in Milwaukie, Oregon, according to the Archdiocese of Portland’s Catholic Sentinel.
Christian is currently being held without bail on two counts of aggravated murder and charges of attempted murder, intimidation and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon.
Archbishop Sample urged the faithful, first and foremost, to pray for the victims and their families, for those who may feel unsafe in the city, and for those whose hearts have hardened to the love of God, turning to violence and hatred.
He also suggested they work with local citizens, government officials and faith-based agencies, such as Catholic Charities, to work to welcome all people to the Portland community.
“It is only through these Christ-like actions that we can truly make a real and tangible change to this continuing and growing disregard for the dignity of every human person,” the archbishop wrote.