U.S. embassy, parish in Rome gather to pray for Orlando victims

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Paul Haring

ROME (CNS) — Forty-nine votive candles burned in front of
the altar in a Rome church as people gathered to pray for the victims of the
massacre June 12 in an Orlando, Florida, nightclub.

The U.S. Embassy to the Holy See and Santa Susanna parish,
the parish serving U.S. Catholics in Rome, planned the evening prayer service
June 16. About 100 people attended.

Paulist Father Steve Bossi, vice rector of Santa Susanna,
spoke about the need to build a culture where everyone is accepted.

Peace begins in each person’s daily life, he said. “If we are not at peace with those
near us, how can we be at peace with those far away?”

In brief remarks at the service, Ken Hackett, U.S. ambassador
to the Holy See, said there is “no reason any individual needs to own an
assault weapon.”

Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, 29, was identified by police as
the lone gunman responsible for the massacre at the Pulse, a gay nightclub.  Police say he used a semi-automatic
rifle and a semi-automatic pistol, both of which he purchased legally.

At the Rome prayer service, Hackett mentioned several
victims by name and noted that “many were also a part of LGBT community, a
community that has seen more than its share of suffering and tragedy.”

The vigil was planned to honor the victims, he said, and to
send our “deepest and heartfelt condolences and prayers” to their
families and friends.

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