Pope, Church leaders, offer prayers for Orlando victims of ‘terrible, absurd violence’
Pope Francis offered prayers for the families of the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando and expressed hope that people would find ways to identify and uproot “the causes of such terrible and absurd violence.”
A lone gunman, pledging allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group, killed 50 people early on 12th June at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Another 53 people were injured before the gunman, identified as 29-year-old Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, was killed by members of a police SWAT team.
Police said Mateen, a private security guard, legally purchased the two guns he used in the shooting, which is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Describing the shooting as an expression of “homicidal folly and senseless hatred,” a Vatican statement said, “The terrible massacre that has taken place in Orlando, with its dreadfully high number of innocent victims, has caused in Pope Francis, and in all of us, the deepest feelings of horror and condemnation, of pain and turmoil.”
“Pope Francis joins the families of the victims and all of the injured in prayer and in compassion,” said the statement released June 12. “Sharing in their indescribable suffering he entrusts them to the Lord so they may find comfort.
“We all hope that ways may be found, as soon as possible, to effectively identify and contrast the causes of such terrible and absurd violence which so deeply upsets the desire for peace of the American people and of the whole of humanity,” the statement concluded.
Catholic leaders from around the U.S. also offered prayers for the victims and their families.
“Waking up to the unspeakable violence in Orlando reminds us of how precious human life is,” said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the U.S. Catholic bishops conference, in a statement.
“Our prayers are with the victims, their families and all those affected by this terrible act.”
“We pray for victims of the mass shooting in Orlando this morning, their families & our first responders. May the Lord’s Mercy be upon us,” Bishop John Noonan of Orlando tweeted on 12th June.
Bishop Noonan was joined in mourning and prayer by Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, who tweeted: “Please join me in praying for the victims of violence, and their families and loved ones, in Orlando.”
Bishop William Lori of Baltimore also voiced his grief over the shooting in a tweet sent from his archdiocese, asking as well for prayers for the victims.
In his statement, Archbishop Kurtz wrote that the “merciful love of Christ calls us to solidarity with the suffering and to ever greater resolve in protecting the life and dignity of every person.”