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A sword has pierced heart of city, says Orlando bishop about shooting

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A sword has pierced heart of city, says Orlando bishop about shooting

ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) — Orlando
Bishop John G. Noonan urged people of faith “to turn their hearts and
souls” to God and pray for the victims, the families and first responders
following the worst mass shooting in U.S. history June 12.

“A sword has pierced the
heart of our city,” he said in a statement.

“The healing power of Jesus
goes beyond our physical wounds but touches every level of our humanity:
physical, emotional, social, spiritual,” he said. “Jesus calls us to
remain fervent in our protection of life and human dignity and to pray
unceasingly for peace in our world.”

The shooting rampage at a gay
nightclub in Orlando left 50 people dead, including the gunman, and 53 wounded.

Police said a lone gunman
identified as 29-year-old Omar Mir Seddique Mateen — opened fire inside the
Pulse club in Orlando in the early morning hours. News reports said that
Mateen, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group, died in a
gun battle with SWAT team members.

Across the nation, reaction from
church and community leaders was swift, and in cities large and small, people
organized candlelit vigils for the victims and their families the night of the

“Waking up to the
unspeakable violence in Orlando reminds us of how precious human life is,”
said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who is president of
the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“Our prayers are with the
victims, their families and all those affected by this terrible act,” he
said in a statement June 12. “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.”

“Our prayers and hearts are
with the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, their families and our gay
and lesbian brothers and sisters,” said Chicago Archbishop Blase J.

In Orlando, priests, deacons and
counselors from the Diocese of Orlando and Catholic Charities of Central
Florida were serving at an aid center established by city officials.

Throughout the day June 12,
church personnel were helping victims and families “on the front lines of
this tragedy,” Bishop Noonan said. “They are offering God’s love and
mercy to those who are facing unimaginable sorrow. They will remain vigilant
and responsive to the needs of our hurting brothers and sisters.”

The bishop also asked all
parishes in the nine-county diocese in central Florida to include prayer
intentions during Sunday Masses.

“Today’s prayers have been
offered for victims of violence and acts of terror … for their families and
friends … and all those affected by such acts against God’s love,”
Bishop Noonan said. “We pray for the people of the city of Orlando that
God’s mercy and love will be upon us as we seek healing and consolation.”

Bishop Noonan planned to lead an
evening prayer vigil for the community — called a “Vigil to Dry Tears”
— at St. James Cathedral in Orlando June 13.

He said the Catholic Church “recognizes
the affliction brought to our city, our families and our friends” by “this
massive assault on the dignity of human life. … I hope this opportunity to
join each other in prayer will bring about an outpouring of the mercy of God
within the heart of our community.”

In his statement, Archbishop
Cupich expressed gratitude to the first responders and civilians at the scene
of the shooting. They “heroically put themselves in harm’s way, providing
an enduring reminder of what compassion and bravery look like — even in the
face of such horror and danger,” he said.

“In response to hatred, we
are called to sow love,” he added. “In response to violence, peace.
And, in response to intolerance, tolerance.”

In a letter to the Chicago
archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach, Archbishop Cupich said: “For you
here today and throughout the whole lesbian and gay community, who are
particularly touched by the heinous crimes committed in Orlando, motivated by
hate, driven perhaps by mental instability and certainly empowered by a culture
of violence, know this: The Archdiocese of Chicago stands with you. I stand
with you.”

He also urged Americans to “find
the courage to face forthrightly the falsehood that weapons of combat belong
anywhere in the civilian population.”

In Washington, Cardinal Donald W.
Wuerl said in a post on his blog said that “the love of Jesus Christ will
prevail,” and while all too often “it appears it that our
civilization is walking through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear
no evil.”

He said all people of goodwill
must stand together “in making another impassioned appeal for peace and
security in our communities and throughout the world.”

Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento,
California, said that “the ugly horror of hate” in Orlando “casts
a chilling shadow from coast to coast.”

“The sweetness of the
Sabbath was saddened by the loss of life and the bitter taste of fear. Still,
the command to keep holy that day can soothe and save us as we now wrestle with
the worries and the wounds left in the wake of such brutality,” he said.

“Hatred blinded the
conscience of the perpetrator of these horrible acts, acts no one must be
allowed to excuse or justify,” Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski said. “The
survival of civilization demands zero tolerance towards such acts of barbarism.
Hate-inspired terrorism is still a clear and present danger in our world.”

Another Florida prelate, Bishop
Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg, said the mass shooting is “a time of
sorrow… of darkness” but all “walk in the light of solidarity and
peace” and must go forward “with the unshakable resolve to change our
nation and our world for the better.”

He addressed the gun rights issue:
“Our founding parents had no knowledge of assault rifles which are
intended to be weapons of mass destruction. … It is long past time to ban the
sale of assault weapons. … If one is truly pro-life, then embrace this issue
also and work for the elimination of sales to those who would turn them on

Bishop Lynch also said that
“sadly, it is religion, including our own, which targets, most verbally,
and also breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people.”

Bishop R. Walker Nickless of
Sioux City, Iowa, urged Catholics in that diocese to keep the Orlando community
in their prayers. “In desperate times, we ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to
bring solace to suffering. May she help those in need, give strength to those
who have lost heart and comfort the sorrowful as they mourn this horrific act
of senselessness.”

Courage International, a
Catholic organization that provides support for people who experience same-sex
attraction, condemned “the atrocious violence” at the gay night club,
adding that “in the face of such outrageous violence and loss of life,
human words and explanations fall short.”

“So people of faith look to
the everlasting mercy and compassion of almighty God, who ‘is near to the
broken-hearted, and saves the crushed in spirit,'” the group said, quoting
Psalm 34.

The Courage statement also
reminded people of what the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
said 30 years ago about violence toward gay people: “It is deplorable that
homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or
in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the church’s pastors
wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers
the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of
each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.”


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