She answered violence with love, and prevented a cycle which far too often perpetuates hate in today’s society. Those are the thoughts of Pittsburgh Bishop David Allen Zubik, who granted an exclusive interview to the Beaver Countian in the wake of a brutal attack against an 85 year old nun outside of a church in Aliquippa last week.
“It was Friday, I’m a news junkie so I always have my antenna up to listen to the news. I heard a teaser on a local television station… Nun assaulted,” began Bishop Zubik. “The initial thoughts are the ones that are still with me, every single day we continue to hear one story after another over violent attacks on other people.”
Police say Andrew Clarence Bullock, age 18 of Orchard Street, attacked the nun at around 11:30am on Friday in a parking lot outside of St. Titus Parish. The woman told police that she was putting papers into a recycling bin when a man came up from behind her, asking if she needed help. She told the man that she didn’t need assistance, and started walking away when he allegedly exposed himself and began forcing her down to the ground, choking and punching her face and body.
The Beaver Countian is not releasing the woman’s name because she is the victim of an alleged sexual assault.
“I have a very close relationship with the Sisters of St. Joseph, I consider them my family. They taught me in high school, I was Chaplain for the sisters for seven years in the early 1980s. I know the sister that was accosted quite well,” said Bishop Zubik. “I feel deeply what the sisters are going through because of this.”
Bishop Zubik feels society has grown accustomed to acts of violence, and desensitized to their devastating effects. “This particular story has caught people’s attention because it was not only an 85 year old woman, but it was also a Catholic Nun [...] Maybe this particular story, as tragic as it is when anybody is assaulted, should make us all take a look and say are we becoming way too comfortable and complacent with the stories of violence that we hear all the time,” he said. “It needs to get our attention so we can really try to do something personally.”
What people shouldn’t be doing, insisted Bishop Zubik, is blaming the crime on anything or anyone other than the individual responsible — anyone who would blame an entire race for the attack, or who would use the incident to caricature a race of people as particularly hostile, are themselves committing an act of violence. “Prejudice or bigotry against any person is an act of violence against that person [...] A violent act can not be countered with another violent act. People holding resentments or worse in their hearts, that can’t be the way to deal with these kinds of things [...] We have to let the good emerge in all of us.”
“If we’re going to be serious about bringing out the best of people, I think we’ve got to turn the finger in on ourselves, and say have I done anything that has in fact caused society to become insensitive to violence,” said Bishop Zubik. “One of things I often think about are some of the entertainment choices that exist among people today. Those are the kinds of things that I think contribute to violence.”
Bishop Zubik also had a message for those who were attempting to use this incident to disparage the City of Aliquippa. “The one thing that we can’t do is lose hope in anybody or any place. I know Beaver County, I grew up in Ambridge, I know Aliquippa [...] I know that Aliquippa has a good family spirit at its core. It seems to me that these kinds of events give people the opportunity to mobilize towards the best that exists in those communities.”
The Bishop said he has confidence that our justice system will handle the crime appropriately, asking the community to have patience and allow that process time to proceed.
Andrew Bullock is facing 10 charges in connection with the attack, including aggravated assault and rape. A preliminary hearing in the case has been scheduled for Thursday.
The elderly nun underwent surgery at Allegheny General to repair a broken jaw, and was released from the hospital yesterday.
The Sisters of St. Joseph released a statement following her attack reading in part, “As Sisters of St. Joseph, we live and work to bring all people into union with God, and sister manifests that spirit every day. Sister is a passionate advocate of nonviolence, peace and justice, and each month she conducts a prayer vigil for peace in the chapel of our Motherhouse. As we offer continued prayers of healing for our sister, we also pray for the young man who has been arrested in the assault.”
“This can’t be something that’s just a story that lasts for a couple of days then goes away from memory,” said Bishop Zubik. “This story, and every story of violence, has to cause us as a society to say we really have to get a hold of what is going on.”