Clergy Seek to Ease 9/11 Grief

Religious leaders recited prayers of mourning and hope Wednesday, asking God to ease America's grief over the thousands killed Sept. 11 and to give the nation strength to confront the continuing terrorist threat.

Worshippers wept as church bells tolled to mark the moment a year ago that suicide hijackers struck New York, Pennsylvania and the Washington area. Hundreds of similar religious services were held around the country.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, leading prayers at Washington's National Cathedral, called the attacks "an outrage of unspeakable horror and evil."

About 35 religious and civic leaders gathered at the Hillel Jewish Student Center at the University of Cincinnati at midnight for personal reflection, music and a reading of the names of the victims.

"Something will come to this great country of ours that will make it stronger," Rabbi Abie Ingber said.

At the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, people emerged from a memorial service to sit on the church steps, staring ahead silently and crying.

"I had to be someplace where I could put my mind at ease and be someplace where there is a chance for hope," said Tammy Bell, who wore an "I Love NY" T-shirt to the cathedral service.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan joined religious leaders of a dozen faiths at St. Bartholomew's Church in Manhattan and recalled how he had been in the same church two days after the attacks.

"We needed to reach out to each other, to share our grief and we needed everyone to pray together. We still do today," Annan said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement Tuesday urging Americans to rely on their faith while commemorating the tragedy. The statement also sent a message about the war on terror, which the group said was justified but should be fought "with the support of the international community and primarily by nonmilitary means."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey, was asked to join worshippers at Trinity Church Wall Street, a historic Episcopal congregation a block from ground zero.

Church and synagogue attendance increased dramatically after last Sept. 11 but soon returned to normal levels. Clergy around the country were preparing for another increase in attendance as Americans sought solace on the anniversary of the attacks.

Muslims were organizing interfaith services and open houses at mosques nationwide. The Fiqh Council of North America, a supreme court of Islamic scholars who interpret religious law, issued a statement just before the anniversary condemning the attacks as violations of Muslim teachings.

Many American Jews were commemorating the day by reciting Kaddish, the mourner's prayer. Many also planned to light yahrzeit candles, which mark the anniversary of the death of a loved one.