Acts of Violence Prompt Concerted Response from Church Leaders

by Lourdes Macaspac

 

On October 31, a 29-year-old Uzbeki man, Sayfullo Saipov, attacked civilians with a rental truck, killing at least eight people and injuring a dozen more. According to eyewitnesses, “he allegedly drove about a mile along a busy bike path near the World Trade Center at about 3 p.m. Eastern time before he slammed into a school bus”.

The President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, decried the act as a “horrendous act that weighs on all of our hearts.” Pope Francis, as he has in the past, called for the faithful to “pray for the deceased, for the injured and for their families”. Above all, the Cardinal and the Pope called for an end to all the senseless violence and asked the faithful to pray for peace.

 

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, called New Yorkers to unity and prayer during this time of distress. He urged New Yorkers of all faiths to pray for those involved in the attack and to create an accepting environment for all people so that “evil acts like this become a thing of the past.” Moreover, Cardinal Dolan called for the community to come together in unity, prayer, and mutual respect. Like the Pope, Cardinal Dolan called for the people of New York to stand united against violence. He reminded them that God is with them wherever they go and through any trial they may suffer.

 

Less than a week later, on November 5, a gunman entered First Baptist Church of Southerland Springs, a small church situated just outside of San Antonio, TX and opened fire on the congregation. In the aftermath twenty-six people died and twenty more were wounded. The shooter was Devin Patrick Kelly, a former member of the United States Air Force. Kelly had been dishonorably discharged from the Air Force following an altercation with his wife, which ended in injuries to the wife and one-year-old step-son. President Donald Trump decried the act as an “act of evil.” Reflecting on the event, Gregg Popovich, head basketball coach of the San Antonio Spurs said: “We won a basketball game, but considering what’s going on today, it’s pretty meaningless. When you think about the tragedy those families are suffering, it’s just inconceivable. It’s impossible to put your head around. So I think talking about basketball tonight is probably pretty inappropriate.”

 

Cardinal DiNardo, decried the act of violence saying, “We stand in unity with you in this time of terrible tragedy—as you stand on holy ground, ground marred today by horrific violence.” Echoing the sentiment, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio said, “I extend my prayers and the prayers of my brother bishops for the victims, the families, the first responders, our Baptist brothers and sisters, indeed the whole community of Sutherland Springs". Pope Francis called the shooting an “act of senseless violence”.

 

Texas Bishops emphasized that in this time, the Christian community must come together in unity. San Antonio Archbishop García-Siller encouraged everyone to be “ambassadors of peace” and to promote “a Culture of Life”. He continued, “May the Lord, who Himself is Peace, send us His Spirit of charity and nonviolence to nurture His peace among us all”. In this time of violence and tragedy, Christians leaders have joined together to stress the message of peace and nonviolence.


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