Friday, July 20, 2012

In Aurora, The Dark Night... And "The Dawn"

Yet again, the eyes of the world have turned with shock to the suburbs of Denver, and another unspeakable loss of life.

Thirteen years after two high-school students in the same metro area murdered 11 of their classmates and wounded over 20 others before killing themselves, a lone gunman's overnight rampage at an Aurora movie theater claimed 12 lives among 71 people shot during a midnight showing of the new Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.

Having returned to his hometown as head of its local church less than 48 hours ago, Archbishop Samuel Aquila and his auxiliary, Bishop James Conley, released the following statement this morning:
Last night at the Century Movie Theater in Aurora, a gunman walked into a full theater and opened fire on scores of moviegoers. In the largest mass shooting in America in more than five years, 12 people were killed and about 50 were wounded by gunfire. We are shocked and saddened by this tragedy. Our hearts and prayers go out to those impacted by this evil act.

In the chaos of the moment, people poured from the movie theater into the darkness of the night—the darkness of confusion, of ambiguity, of despair. We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters cast into that darkness. They do not stand alone. As Catholic bishops, we “weep with those who weep.”

But in Aurora, which means “the dawn,” the sun rose this morning. In a city whose name evokes the light, people of hope know that the darkness may be overcome.

For those who were killed, our hope is the tender mercy of our God. “Neither death nor life,” reflected St. Paul, “can separate us from the love of God.” We commend their souls, and their families and friends, to God’s enduring love.

For those who were wounded—physically, emotionally and spiritually, our hope is in their recovery and renewal. To them we offer our prayers, our ears to listen, and our hearts to love. The road to recovery may be long, but in hope we are granted the gift of new life.

We hope also for the perpetrator of this terrible crime, and we pray for his conversion. Evil ruled his heart last night. Only Jesus Christ can overcome the darkness of such evil.

We hope that all of us may find the peace which surpasses understanding.

The Archdiocese of Denver stands ready to assist the victims of this tragedy, and our community. Regina Caeli Counseling Services of Catholic Charities will offer counseling over the next few weeks to those who need it. We look for opportunities to pray with our community. And we continue to work to support families and communities in forming people of peace.