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Bishops and Franciscans speak out after latest shooting in US

By Ann Marie Foley - 09 November, 2017

American bishops have offered prayers for the victims, families, first responders, the Baptist congregation and whole community of Sutherland Springs in the aftermath of the mass shooting at a Baptist Church in Texas.

Cardinal Daniel N DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston, and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has stated: “We stand in unity with you in this time of terrible tragedy—as you stand on holy ground, ground marred today by horrific violence.”

Cardinal DiNardo

He and fellow bishops prayed to the Lord for healing of those injured, care of those who have died and the consolation of their families.

Devin Kelley opened fire on Sunday 5 November at a church outside San Antonio, Texas, and killed 26 people including the unborn child of a young mother. The dead ranged in age from 18 months to 77 years, and 20 others were wounded, with 10 on the critical list. He was armed with a rifle and handgun.

Pope Francis immediately expressed his condolences to the families of the victims of the shooting, saying he was “deeply grieved by news of the loss of life and grave injuries caused by the act of senseless violence perpetrated at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.”

In a telegram addressed to Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that Pope Francis was praying to “our Lord Jesus Christ to console all who mourn and to grant them the spiritual strength that triumphs over violence and hatred by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love.”

The American bishops also criticised the gun culture in their country.

“This incomprehensibly tragic event joins an ever-growing list of mass shootings, some of which were also at churches while people were worshipping and at prayer. We must come to the firm determination that there is a fundamental problem in our society. A Culture of Life cannot tolerate, and must prevent, senseless gun violence in all its forms,” said Cardinal Daniel N DiNardo in a statement.

The Franciscans issued a statement in which they implored “politicians to act. Each and every day they have more and more innocent blood on their hands.”

Patrick Carolan, Executive Director of the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) cited his recent blog, which he wrote after the recent Las Vegas shooting, stating: “The American society is diseased with apathy. I find myself repeating it over and over again: Gun safety is not a political issue. It is a pro-life issue, a moral issue, and an ethical issue. We need to stop just offering prayers and start acting.”

The Franciscans stated that they support the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ statement that a Culture of Life cannot tolerate gun violence.

“There is no question that members of Congress offer their condolences but do little else because they are in the pocket of the National Rifle Association. But their thoughts and prayers are useless without good works,” the statement added.

“FAN mourns for those slaughtered and wounded and prays for their families. We challenge our political and religious leaders who suffer from the disease of apathy. We must find a way to put an end to this madness.”

Several other bishops and church leaders from the USA and all over the world also prayed for the victims of the shooting and offered condolences.

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