Pope offers prayers for Orlando victims of ‘terrible, absurd violence’

Bishop Tobin says faithful must renew commitment to be instruments of peace

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis offered prayers for the families of the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, and expressed hope that people would find ways to identify and uproot "the causes of such terrible and absurd violence."

A lone gunman, pledging allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group, killed 49 people early June 12 at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. Another 53 people were injured before the gunman, identified as 29-year-old Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, was killed by members of a police SWAT team.

Police said Mateen, a private security guard, legally purchased the two guns he used in the shooting, which is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Describing the shooting as an expression of “homicidal folly and senseless hatred,” a Vatican statement said, “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.”

“Pope Francis joins the families of the victims and all of the injured in prayer and in compassion,” said the statement released June 12. “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,” the statement concluded.

Here in the Diocese of Providence, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin has written to the priests of the diocese asking that special prayers for the victims of the terrorist attack in Orlando be offered at parish Masses this weekend.

“In the face of so much violence and pain, we raise our voices to Almighty God seeking his compassion and healing for all the victims of this atrocity,” Bishop Tobin said in a statement. “In response to the hatred and fear, and the attacks on human life and dignity we see all too often in our world, we should renew our commitment to be instruments of peace and justice in our own daily lives. We should echo the words of the hymn, ‘Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.’”

In a recent Facebook post, the bishop added that the shooting in Orlando was a “horrific, inhumane, and sinful attack on the human family.”

“I stand in personal and spiritual solidarity with all those who have suffered from the cruel violence — the deceased, the injured, and their families and friends — and particularly our brothers and sisters in the gay community who are increasingly targeted and particularly vulnerable to these violent attacks.”

With reports from Rhode Island Catholic.