Pope Francis joins prayers for victims of bloody weekend in U.S.

A woman becomes emotional during a vigil in Dayton, Ohio, Aug. 4, 2019. Pope Francis joined Catholic Church leaders expressing sorrow after back-to-back mass shootings in the United States left at least 29 dead and dozens injured in Texas and Ohio Aug. 3 and 4. (CNS photo/Bryan Woolston, Reuters) A woman becomes emotional during a vigil in Dayton, Ohio, Aug. 4, 2019. Pope Francis joined Catholic Church leaders expressing sorrow after back-to-back mass shootings in the United States left at least 29 dead and dozens injured in Texas and Ohio Aug. 3 and 4. (CNS photo/Bryan Woolston, Reuters) 

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis joined Catholic Church leaders expressing sorrow after back-to-back mass shootings in the United States left at least 29 dead and dozens injured in Texas and Ohio Aug. 3 and 4.

After the prayer called the Angelus in St Peter's Square on Aug. 4, the pope said he wanted to convey his spiritual closeness to the victims, the wounded and the families affected by the attacks. He also included those who died a weekend earlier during a shooting at a festival in Gilroy, California.

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"I am spiritually close to the victims of the episodes of violence that these days have bloodied Texas, California and Ohio, in the United States, affecting defenseless people," he said.

He joined bishops in Texas as well as national Catholic organizations and leaders reacting to a bloody first weekend of August, which produced the eighth deadliest gun violence attack in the country after a gunman opened fire in the morning of Aug. 3 at a mall in El Paso, Texas, killing 20 and injuring more than a dozen people.

Less than 24 hours after the El Paso shooting, authorities in Dayton, Ohio, reported at least nine dead and more than a dozen injured after a gunman opened fire on a crowd at or near a bar in the early hours of Aug. 4. The suspected gunman was fatally wounded and police later identified him as 24-year-old Connor Betts, of Bellbrook, Ohio.

On Aug. 4, after the second shooting become public, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the chairman of the bishops' domestic policy committee offered prayers, condolences and urged action.

"The lives lost this weekend confront us with a terrible truth. We can never again believe that mass shootings are an isolated exception. They are an epidemic against life that we must, in justice, face," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, in a statement issued jointly with Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

"The lives lost this weekend confront us with a terrible truth. We can never again believe that mass shootings are an isolated exception. They are an epidemic against life that we must, in justice, face," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo

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"God's mercy and wisdom compel us to move toward preventative action. We encourage all Catholics to increased prayer and sacrifice for healing and the end of these shootings. We encourage Catholics to pray and raise their voices for needed changes to our national policy and national culture as well," the statement continued.

Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, who heads the Cincinnati Archdiocese, which includes Dayton, said it was "with a heavy heart" Catholics turned to prayer this Sunday. "As tragic and violent shootings continue in our country," in El Paso and now Dayton, "I ask for everyone of faith to join in prayer for the victims and their loved ones.

Eric Spina, president of the University of Dayton, said the Marianist-run school and its community offered "our prayers for the families and loved ones of the victims and the wounded, both for our friends and neighbors here in Dayton and in El Paso, Texas."

In the shooting in El Paso, police arrested 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, of Allen, Texas. Several news organizations said local and federal authorities are investigating whether the shooting was a possible hate crime since the suspected gunman may be linked to a manifesto that speaks of the "Hispanic invasion" of Texas.

Via Twitter, Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, tweeted Aug. 4: "More senseless gun killings ... more white nationalism ... more disregard for the sanctity of human life. ... We need to create the beloved community Jesus envisions now."

On its website, the Diocese of El Paso announced Aug. 4 that Masses would take place as scheduled on Sunday but canceled "out of an abundance of caution" a festival-like celebration called a "kermess," which is popular among Catholic Latino populations, that was scheduled to take place at Our Lady of the Light Church.

The diocese also asked for prayers and said Bishop Mark J. Seitz would be participating in an Aug. 4 interfaith evening vigil for the victims. In a statement announcing the vigil, the faith leaders said that communities need to console one another.

"Today we stand in horror and shock at the devastating loss of life and heartless attack on our border community. Tomorrow we will mourn, dry tears, offer our sacrifice of prayer and brace ourselves for the work ahead. Because even now the borderlands will stick together and the borderlands will stand together," they said in the statement released by the Interfaith Alliance of the Southwest and the nonprofit Hope Border Institute of the El Paso Diocese.

The institute, which deals with immigration issues, asked anyone who could do so to donate blood at a center in the city. It also gave local directions and offered help via Twitter for those looking for loved ones who may have been hurt in the shooting but who were afraid to contact authorities because of their immigration status.

"If you are afraid to contact the authorities regarding the shooting because of your immigration status, please contact Hope Border Institute and we will help you," the organization tweeted in English and Spanish Aug. 3.

The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas posted a prayer on their website called "Let the shooting end." They called on lawmakers to enact guns laws "to protect all in our society."

Immediately after the news of the El Paso shooting, they tweeted: "Our hearts break for the families of those killed and wounded in today's mass shooting in El Paso. A school, a movie theater, a church, a shopping mall: All places where we should feel safe, all places that have experienced senseless tragedy because of guns."

Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Dewane said in their Aug. 4 statement that the bishops' conference has long advocated for responsible gun laws and increased resources for addressing the root causes of violence and called upon the president and congress to set aside political interests "and find ways to better protect innocent life."

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
J Cosgrove
2 months 1 week ago

In the past 48hrs, the USA horrifically lost 34 people to mass shootings. On average, across any 48hrs, we also lose 500 to Medical errors 300 to the Flu 250 to Suicide 200 to Car Accidents 40 to Homicide via Handgun
Often our emotions respond more to spectacle than to data
DeGrasse Tyson

J Cosgrove
2 months 1 week ago

Add to that above 400 every 48 hours to drug overdoses.

People die before their time all over world. Why?

Douglas Fang
2 months 1 week ago

I never saw such a more ridiculous, ignorant, and utterly nonsense excuse from someone who seems to always consider himself as a "knowledgeable" person! By the same argument, why bother fighting the Islamic militants with the cost runs into trillions as they have killed a far less number of Americans, including the 9/11 event!

karen oconnell
2 months 1 week ago

i agree....couldn't believe what i was reading. almost laughable.

Stuart Meisenzahl
2 months 1 week ago

Douglas
Step off your indignant high horse for a second and note: J Cosgrove was quoting that ever so smooth talking Mr. Neil de Grasse Tyson, a paragon of liberal science values. You have managed to prove Mr deGrasse’s point ....”People respond more to emotional spectacle than they do to data”

Stanley Kopacz
2 months 1 week ago

What are liberal science values? If a liberal or a conservative is put in orbit at a certain radial distance from the earth's center of mass, they'll both have to have the same velocity.

Stuart Meisenzahl
2 months 1 week ago

Stanley
Liberal science values = the selective use of science and scientific information to support liberal causes.

Stanley Kopacz
2 months 1 week ago

The only cause Tyson supports that I'm aware of is climate change awareness and action and that is not a liberal cause. That is only recognizing an existential problem and taking measures to mitigate it. I have no idea what Tyson's other concerns are, liberal or conservative, and could care less. There is no such thing as liberal or conservative science. There are scientists who are liberal or conservative.

Douglas Fang
2 months 1 week ago

Stuart,
What high horse are you referring to? I just point out the absurdity of J’s argument that the death of 30 people in recent mass shootings is nothing as so many more are dying left and right in myriad ways. I had exchanged comments with J many times through the years here and I come to conclude that he’s just a die-hard Trump worshipper who defends this despicable POTUS at any cost.

About handguns … Nobody complains or make a fuss about handguns, hunting guns or small arms... We are talking about serious semi-automatic assault-style weapons intended to cause maximum infliction to a maximum number of people in a very short time. Just try to put yourself in the pain and suffering of the victims that died in El Paso after they were brought to the hospital. These mass killing weapons have no place in modern society.

America is supposed to be the land of the brave and home of the free… Excuse me! I see more and more that America is the land of the coward and the home of the oppressed… in the face of the NRA and the gun lobby. It is so pathetic!

Stanley Kopacz
2 months 1 week ago

Who says we don't respond to these numbers. We get flu shots. We sue hospitals. Handguns, well, they're protected by the crooked NRA. But when an AK-47 gets shoved up your kazoo, you're supposed to accept it as inevitable. I think, in this case, DeGrasse, in trying to be the Great Guru, used 1/3 of his IQ points to cancel out another 1/3.

Stuart Meisenzahl
2 months 1 week ago

Stanley
The NRA might well be crooked but “handguns are protected by” ...the Second Amendment as interpreted by the Supreme Court and even such a legal luminary as Barack Obama

Stanley Kopacz
2 months 1 week ago

It's nice that you think Obama is my hero but he is not. I voted for him twice as the lesser of two evils but never expected much of him as he was a Third Way Democrat. I would like to see instant runoff voting as a way to dislodge the entrenched two parties. As for the 2nd Amendment, if one is a so-called "originalist", and tries to reconstruct the intent of the Founding Fathers, the intent of many of them was to use firearms to suppress slaves and kill Indians.

Stanley Kopacz
2 months 1 week ago

Deleted

FRAN ABBOTT
2 months 1 week ago

Who cares about comparisons? The fact is that over 30 innocent people lost their lives to horrific, premeditated shootings. Many more are injured and/or traumatized. This is not something to be put into perspective. We need to be human about this tragedy, for heaven’s sake.

Judith Jordan
2 months 1 week ago

There is a risk analysis with items society uses. Most of the above mentioned items cars, medical, drugs, etc. have a an overwhelmingly positive use. They assist millions of more people than they harm. There is no reasonable need or use for an individual to have military weapons so they should be banned from the public.

karen oconnell
2 months 1 week ago

i offer a motto attributed to Cornelia Connolly, 19th cent foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus: '''Action Not Words''- which i would expand to ''Action, not just words and laisser-faire praying.'' i am really tired of ''let us pray'' syndrome. it really is just an attempt to get us 'all off the hook'' and ''blames God'' for the unholy mess that we have created. so: ACTION NOT WORDS....... OR SANCTIMONIOUS PRAYING which allows so many of us ''''off the hook.''

Adeolu Ademoyo
2 months 1 week ago

I just have some few simple questions. The questions are:

1. Can a racist condemn racism? When a racist who is fueled by racism kills other people who do not look like him, can another racist condemn such killings?

2. When a racist describes (to his audience) a group of human beings who do not look like him (i) as "invaders", as "rats" who must be returned to where they came from; (ii) as vermins who live where no human being will want to live, (iii) as rapists, (iv) as drug dealers, (v) as being "infested" and the same racist asks his raucous audience what should be done to these "invaders" and, his raucous audience say "shoot them" "send them back" and the racist grinned gleefully. And a few months later, a racist- in El Paso, Texas, took on a group of people he called invaders and shot them-20 people in all, questions are: Is there a link between these racists, what they said, and the action they took? Is there a link between the racist who described people who do not look like him as invaders to his raucous audience and the racist who killed 20 people he called invaders in El Paso Texas?

Strangely, people now want the first racist to condemn the second racist. Strangely, people now want the first racist to console and comfort the community of the victims and survivors of the killing of the second racist. But seriously, can a racist comfort and console the victims of racism? Can the racist who described people who do not look him as invaders and as rats now condemn the racist who killed people who do not look like him and called them invaders before he killed them? If a racist allegedly "empathizes" with the victims of racism, can we take such "empathy" seriously? Should we? If the first racist purportedly "condemns" the second racist who actually killed, can we take the purported "condemnation" of the first racist seriously? Just thinking. Just reflecting. Just meditating.

May the infinite, loving, kind and merciful God, the great comforter and consoler, console and comfort the families of the dead. May the souls of the dead rest in profound peace of God. May God have mercy on us , forgive us our sins and the sins of the whole world. May God forgive us our sins for what we did and failed to do, for what we said and failed to say. May God be kind to all of us and the country-the United States. May God help us to mend our imperfections and the imperfections of the country.

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