The Catholic response to the worst mass shooting in U.S. history

Special Reports
July, 2016

Pope Francis and a chorus of U.S. bishops condemned the shooting in Orlando, Florida on June 12, which killed 49 people and injured more than 50.

The Vatican response

Pope Francis joined bishops and clergy across the U.S. in condemning this attack on innocent civilians, calling the violence an act of “senseless hatred.” A statement from the Vatican read:

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.

The U.S. Bishops react

Bishops throughout the country expressed their condolences and offered prayers of healing for the victims, their families, the community and the country. Below are excerpts from some of these statements.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)

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.


Bishop John Noonan, Diocese of Orlando

A sword has pierced the heart of our city. Since learning of the tragedy this morning, I have urged all to pray for the victims, the families and first responders. I pray that the Lord’s mercy will be upon us during this time of sadness, shock and confusion. I urge people of faith to turn their hearts and souls to the great physician, our Lord Jesus Christ, who consoles and carries us through suffering with mercy and tenderness. The healing power of Jesus goes beyond our physical wounds but touches every level of our humanity: physical, emotional, social, spiritual. Jesus calls us to remain fervent in our protection of life and human dignity and to pray unceasingly for peace in our world.

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.


Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston

As our society faces the massive and violent assault on human life in Orlando on Sunday, the Archdiocese of Boston offers and encourages prayers on behalf of those who were killed in the attack, those who were injured, and all their families and friends. At this time our prayers are also with Bishop Noonan and the Diocese of Orlando, with the wider community of Orlando, and for our country, once again confronted by the face of hatred expressed through gun violence.

The United States proudly upholds its long-standing tradition of being open and welcoming to those in need of a safe haven. Our country greatly benefits from human creativity and achievement cultivated without distinction of race, ethnicity, religion, nationality or any other differentiating characteristic. From a multitude of differences we have sought unity. We must meet the challenges of combining freedom, pluralism and unity in our increasingly diverse society if the United States is to continue to be a beacon of hope to the world.


Bishop Earl Boyea, Diocese of Lansing

“Life is under attack – migrants at sea, kids in night clubs, the unborn & starving, Christians in Syria. Let us pray for respect for human dignity.”


Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami

"Hatred blinded the conscience of the perpetrator of these horrible acts, acts no one must be allowed to excuse or justify." 


Pray

Let us pray for healing for the families of the victims of the Orlando shooting. May they draw strength and peace from their faith in God as they work to rebuild their lives.