Catholic bishops were among those taking to social media late Thursday evening to express shock and grief over the murder of five Dallas-area police officers following an otherwise peaceful protest calling attention to the killing of black Americans by police.
Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas tweeted as the news was breaking, calling for prayers for the officers hit by what is believed to be sniper fire, as well as two African-Americans killed by police in other cities earlier this week.
“Please pray for the police officers shot in Dallas, & for the souls & families of Philando Castile & Alton Sterling,” Farrell posted last night.
As the evening progressed and it became clear that there were multiple deaths in Dallas—five as of Friday morning—Bishop Farrell continued to tweet, urging prayers for victims and posting a strong condemnation of gun culture.
“All of us are affected by the senseless gun violence in our country. Lord, bless our country and help us to love one another!” he posted, followed by another Tweet: “Gun violence is not a problem for someone in another state, or another town. It affects EVERYONE - even right here in #Dallas.”
All of us are affected by the senseless gun violence in our country. Lord, bless our country and help us to love one another!— Bishop Kevin Farrell (@Bishop_Farrell) July 8, 2016
The bishop also offered prayers, turning to the psalms.
“I set the LORD ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. Ps 16 #PrayforDallas #DallasPoliceShooting,” he tweeted Friday morning.
Bishop Farrell has written extensively about lax gun laws in the United States, most recently following the attack in Orlando that left 50 people dead.
“Our gun laws are an invitation to kill,” he wrote on his blog on June 13. “They would be ludicrous if the situation were not so tragic.”
Other bishops in Texas also weighed in as the news broke.
Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler, about 100 miles east of Dallas, tweeted, “We pray for the Dallas police officers and for all who have been harmed by the senseless and evil violence in Dallas. Lord bring us Peace.”
The Diocese of Austin, about 200 miles south of Dallas, used its Facebook page to ask for prayers for Dallas.
The Diocese of Dallas posted a tweet calling for prayers Thursday evening.
“We pray for love, justice, mercy, tolerance, patience & peace. God bless our city and nation and all those deceased & hurt. #Dallas,” the message read.
We pray for love, justice, mercy, tolerance, patience & peace. God bless our city and nation and all those deceased & hurt. #Dallas— Diocese of Dallas (@DCYCDallas) July 8, 2016
A Catholic church in downtown Dallas was closed Friday, following orders from law enforcement officials who said early Friday morning that they were not confident the area was safe.
St. Jude Chapel announced on its Facebook page that it would reopen Saturday, and posted a photo asking for prayers for the city.
Bishop Farrell published a blog post Friday morning, calling Thursday night’s violence “staggering” and repeating his calls for prayers and political action.
“Our first concern is for the families who have lost loved ones in this tragic attack,” he wrote. “We pray for consolation and healing for both the families and those killed and wounded. We are reminded of the ever -present danger to those who are dedicated to protecting us.”
“We have been swept up in the escalating cycle of violence that has now touched us intimately as it has others throughout our country and the world,” he wrote. “All lives matter: black, white, Muslim, Christian, Hindu.”
“We are all children of God and all human life is precious,” he continued.
He then urged “civic leaders to speak to one another and work together to come to a sensible resolution to this escalating violence” and invoked the words of Pope Francis.
“May the God of peace arouse in all an authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence cannot be overcome with violence. Violence is overcome with peace,” he wrote, quoting the pope.
UPDATE 3:54 P.M.
Bishop Farrell has released a video responding to the shootings: