'A sword has pierced heart' of city, says Orlando bishop about shooting

IMAGE: CNS photo/Steve Nesius, Reuters


ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) — Orlando Bishop
John G. Noonan urged people of faith “to turn their hearts and souls”
to God and pray for the victims, the families and first responders following
the worst mass shooting in U.S. history June 12.

“A sword has pierced the
heart of our city,” he said in a statement.

“The healing power of Jesus
goes beyond our physical wounds but touches every level of our humanity:
physical, emotional, social, spiritual,” he said. “Jesus calls us to
remain fervent in our protection of life and human dignity and to pray unceasingly
for peace in our world.”

The shooting rampage at a
crowded nightclub in Orlando left 50 people dead, including the gunman, and 53

Police said a lone gunman identified
as 29-year-old Omar Mir Seddique Mateen — opened fire inside the Pulse club in
Orlando in
the early morning hours. New reports said that Mateen, who pledged allegiance
to the Islamic State terrorist group, died in a gun battle with SWAT team

Across the nation, reaction from
church and community leaders was swift, and in cities large and small, people
organized candlelit vigils for the victims and their families the night of the

“Waking up to the
unspeakable violence in Orlando reminds us of how precious human life is,”
said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who is president of
the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“Our prayers are with the
victims, their families and all those affected by this terrible act,” he
said in a statement June 12. “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.”

“Our prayers and hearts are
with the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, their families and our gay
and lesbian brothers and sisters,” said Chicago Archbishop Blase J.

In Orlando, priests,
deacons and counselors from the Diocese of Orlando and Catholic Charities of
Central Florida were serving at an aid center established by city officials.

Throughout the day June 12, church personnel were
helping victims and families “on the front lines of this tragedy,”
Bishop Noonan said. “They are offering God’s love and mercy to those who
are facing unimaginable sorrow. They will remain vigilant and responsive to the
needs of our hurting brothers and sisters.”

The bishop also asked all
parishes in the nine-county diocese in central Florida to include prayer
intentions during Sunday Masses.

“Today’s prayers have been
offered for victims of violence and acts of terror … for their families and
friends … and all those affected by such acts against God’s love,”
Bishop Noonan said. “We pray for the people of the city of Orlando that
God’s mercy and love will be upon us as we seek healing and consolation.”

Bishop Noonan planned to lead an
evening prayer vigil for the community — called a “Vigil to Dry Tears”
— at St. James Cathedral in Orlando June 13.

He said the Catholic Church
“recognizes the
affliction brought to our city, our families and our friends” by “this
massive assault on the dignity of human life. … I hope this opportunity to
join each other in prayer will bring about an outpouring of the mercy of God
within the heart of our community.”

In his statement, Archbishop
Cupich expressed gratitude to the first responders and civilians at the scene
of the shooting. They “heroically put themselves in harm’s way, providing
an enduring reminder of what compassion and bravery look like — even in the
face of such horror and danger,” he said.

“In response to hatred, we
are called to sow love,” he added. “In response to violence, peace.
And, in response to intolerance, tolerance.”

– – –

Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Original Article