Bishops Respond to Recent Mass Shootings

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This article incorporates reporting from Episcopal News Service.

Several diocesan bishops prayed for victims, lamented the loss of life, and called for action against gun violence after two large-scale shootings led to dozens of deaths over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Some focused on the church’s call to bring hope to disillusioned young people, while others denounced the racist motives expressed in an anti-immigrant manifesto that the El Paso shooter is alleged to have posted before his attack.

The Rt. Rev. Michael Hunn, whose Diocese of Rio Grande includes El Paso, issued a public message focused on the church’s call to work for healing and bring hope to people like the El Paso shooter, who may have launched the attack as a way of seeking notoriety.

“Imagine a person whose self-worth is so damaged and they are in so need of recognition that they are willing to perpetrate great violence in order to find that other people think of them or know their names,” Bishop Hunn said. “We know that God loves and values every single human being. And so, in the church we can do perhaps more to reach out to help young people know that God loves and values them. To let them know we love and value them. To provide a way of hope so that people don’t feel like the only way they can make a name for themselves is by perpetrating some horrible crime.”

Dayton is situated within the Diocese of Southern Ohio.  Bishop Tom Briedenthal pointed out in a Facebook post that it has been less than a year since the last time a city in his diocese has been the scene of a mass shooting. Three people were killed and two wounded in a similar event last September in Cincinnati. “Please join me in praying for an end to the epidemic of hate and violence that is sweeping our country,” he said.

Bishops Hunn and Briedenthal are among the nearly 100 bishops who are members of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a group founded after the 2012 shootings of schoolchildren in Sandy Hook, Conn., and worshipers at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. The Rt. Rev. Ian Douglas of Connecticut, one of the group’s conveners, read their The Litany In the Wake of a Mass Shooting on a Facebook video on Sunday, adding El Paso and Dayton to a list of 43 events tallied in the prayer since the group’s founding.

The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Reddall of Arizona spoke out against the hatred alleged to lie behind the El Paso attack at a vigil for the victims on Sunday in Phoenix. “You cannot be a white supremacist and be a Christian,” she told Episcopal News Service. “You cannot love Jesus and hate your neighbor. And if you say you do, you’re wrong.”

ENS has more.


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