Sunday, June 12, 2016

On Orlando Massacre, The Pope's "Deepest Horror"

Reacting to the deadliest mass shooting in US history – at least 50 dead and another 53 injured in an early-morning attack on an LGBT nightclub in Orlando – the Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ issued a rare nighttime statement from the Pope:
The terrible massacre that has taken place in Orlando, with its dreadfully high number of innocent victims, has caused in Pope Francis, and in all of us, the deepest feelings of horror and condemnation, of pain and turmoil before this new manifestation of homicidal folly and senseless hatred. Pope Francis joins the families of the victims and all of the injured in prayer and in compassion. Sharing in their indescribable suffering he entrusts them to the Lord so they may find comfort. We all hope that ways may be found, as soon as possible, to effectively identify and contrast the causes of such terrible and absurd violence which so deeply upsets the desire for peace of the American people and of the whole of humanity.
On the local front, meanwhile, the city's Bishop John Noonan tweeted this morning that "We pray for victims of the mass shooting in Orlando this morning, their families & our first responders. May the Lord's Mercy be upon us."

In a separate statement, the president of the USCCB, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, wrote the following:
Waking up to the unspeakable violence in Orlando reminds us of how precious human life is. Our prayers are with the victims, their families and all those affected by this terrible act. 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.
Amid officials' determination that the attack was an act of domestic terrorism – now the largest such bloodshed since 9/11 – the US bishops are largely en route today to their annual spring meeting, this year's beginning tomorrow in Huntington Beach, California.

While committee meetings have been underway since yesterday, as this week's plenary is the body's triennial retreat, the meeting is closed to press and other observers, and no formal business is supposed to take place.

This round of the bench's spiritual exercises will be led by Manila's Cardinal Chito Tagle on the theme of "The Bishop as Missionary Leader for the Human Family." In addition to his role as head of Asia's largest diocese – and a frequently-cited contender to be the continent's first Pope – the Vatican II scholar and Catholic University of America alum, who turns 59 next week, was recently named global president of Caritas Internationalis, the worldwide confederation of the church's charitable and humanitarian efforts.