Sunday Gatherings Bring Bostonians Some Solace

Boston is slowly regaining its sense of normalcy. Even though many questions about last week's events remain unanswered, Bostonians found solace in religious and memorial services. NPR's Dan Bobkoff reports that the somber mood was the backdrop Sunday as everyone waited to see what will happen next in the case.

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JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

In the immediate aftermath of the Boston bombings, American Muslims held their breath, hoping that the suspects were not Muslims; they were. Coming up on the show, a conversation on Islam and America.

But first, charges in the Boston bombing case could be coming soon. Nineteen-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev remains at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He's reportedly in critical but stable condition, but he is not currently able to speak.

Mayor Tom Menino announced today that the city will begin to reopen parts of Back Bay Boston to eventually include Copley Square, the scene of the bombings. The city remained largely subdued, though, and Bostonians today took time to remember the dead and wounded. NPR's Dan Bobkoff reports.

ARLINGTON STREET CHURCH CHOIR: (Singing) Somewhere...

DAN BOBKOFF, BYLINE: It's been less than a week since two bombs ripped through the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring more than 170. And just days after this entire metropolitan area spent hours on lockdown, and the frenzied capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Boston was somber this Sunday.

CHOIR: (Singing) There is more love...

BOBKOFF: On the corner of Boylston and Berkeley Streets, just yards from the site of the bombings, is a growing makeshift memorial. The Arlington Street Church Choir had just come from services and broke out into song at the site. The unplanned moment shows just how much the events of last week weigh on people's minds here in Boston, and it seems the world. This is how chief commentator Geoff Wightman started the marathon in London today.

GEOFF WIGHTMAN: This week, the world marathon family was shocked and saddened by the events at the Boston Marathon. In a few moments, a whistle will sound and we will join together in silence to remember our friends and colleagues for whom a day of joy turned into a day of sadness.

(SOUNDBITE OF WHISTLE)

BOBKOFF: The crowd stood in silence for 30 seconds. Many of the 35,000 runners wore black ribbons on their chests.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BOBKOFF: And back in Boston, several religious services honored the victims. At the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, this morning's Mass was a scene of reflection. Victims and their families sat in the pews. Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis was in the front row. Cardinal Sean O'Malley called for reconciliation, not revenge.

CARDINAL SEAN O'MALLEY: The crimes of the two young men must not be the justification for prejudice against Muslims or against immigrants. The gospel is the antidote for the eye-for-an-eye and tooth-for-a-tooth mentality.

BOBKOFF: O'Malley invoked the names of those slain by the bombings and the shooting at MIT, saying death is not a period, but a comma. After the service, reporters asked O'Malley if he thought Tsarnaev should get the death penalty.

O'MALLEY: Going forward, we don't know what his punishment will be, but obviously as a Catholic, I oppose the death penalty, which I think is one further manifestation of the culture of death in our midst.

BOBKOFF: There's no death penalty in Massachusetts, and some are pushing to have the case tried in federal court where Tsarnaev could be eligible for capital punishment. Tsarnaev has yet to be questioned, and the investigation into the bombings continues.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told ABC today that he believes the two suspects acted alone, but it may be hard to get more information.

MAYOR THOMAS MENINO: The older brother's dead now. We have the second one at Beth Israel Hospital in very serious condition. And we don't know if we'll ever be able to question the individual.

BOBKOFF: On CBS, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said based on evidence from the site of the Friday morning firefight, he believes the two men were planning further acts of violence.

COMMISSIONER ED DAVIS: The scene was littered with unexploded improvised explosive devices that actually we had to point out to the arriving officers and clear the area.

BOBKOFF: He says the two brothers were heavily armed and threw grenades at the responding officers. Authorities continue to probe a trip older brother Tamerlan took to Dagestan where he could have come in contact with extremists. And with the one week anniversary of the bombings tomorrow, the governor and mayor have called for a one-minute moment of silence at 2:50 p.m. Then bells will ring across the state. Dan Bobkoff, NPR News, Boston.

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