Bishops say church shooting confirms 'fundamental problem' in America

Bishops say church shooting confirms ‘fundamental problem’ in America

In the wake of a shooting at a Baptist church in Texas that reportedly has left at least 20 people dead, the U.S. bishops called it "holy ground" and said the incident confirms a "fundamental problem" in America. Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of Antonio tweeted that "Our Baptist brethren need us."

In the wake of a shooting in eastern Texas that reportedly has left at least twenty people dead and more than twenty others injured, the U.S. bishops have called the small Baptist church where the tragedy occurred “holy ground,” and said the latest gun-related loss of life confirms a “fundamental problem” in American society.

The wife of the pastor of the First Baptist Church confirmed to media on Sunday that their 14-year-old daughter was among those killed. The incident came on the eighth anniversary of the 2009 Fort Hood shootings in Texas that left 13 people dead and more than 30 injured.

“Earlier today, we heard of the mass shooting at the Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. bishops’ conference.

“With Archbishop García- Siller, 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,” DiNardo said.

“We stand in unity with you in this time of terrible tragedy — as you stand on holy ground, ground marred today by horrific violence. We ask the Lord for healing of those injured, His loving care of those who have died and the consolation of their families,” he said.

DiNardo also said the Texas shooting illustrates a “fundamental problem” in America.

“This incomprehensibly tragic event joins an ever-growing list of mass shootings, some of which were also at churches while people were worshipping and at prayer,” he said.

“We must come to the firm determination that there is a fundamental problem in our society.  A Culture of Life cannot tolerate, and must prevent, senseless gun violence in all its forms.  May the Lord, who Himself is Peace, send us His Spirit of charity and nonviolence to nurture His peace among us all.”

The Archbishop of San Antonio also expressed his solidarity and prayer for Sutherland Springs through a series of tweets, insisting that “our Baptist brethren need us.”

Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller is the Archbishop of San Antonio, about ten miles to the west from Sutherland Springs.

“We need to be ambassadors of peace,” García-Siller tweeted on Sunday in the wake of initial reports of the shooting, which suggest it was the result of one gunman who died shortly thereafter. It remains unclear whether the death was self-inflicted, or the result of a police shooting.

“I invite everyone to pray for the Baptist pastor and everyone in that parish, especially those who died,” García-Siller said in a subsequent tweet.

In another tweet in Spanish, the San Antonio archbishop said, “Please, let’s pray for our brothers in the faith. The Baptist church is in a very deep sorrow. No war, no violence, no weapons!”

García-Siller also tweeted, “We need prayers! The families affected in the shootings need prayers. Let’s help with prayers. Our Baptist brethren need us.”

And finally, the archbishop sent out this message: “We work in little ways to stop war,violence and guns. Peace! Peace! Jesus said: peace be with you. Peace! We are sorry for our State. Peace!”

Sutherland Springs is a small, tight-knit rural community of fewer than 700 people, meaning that Sunday’s casualties represent two to three percent of the entire population. Locals speaking on national TV on Sunday afternoon described the incident as “stunning” and “dumbfounding.”

While no information is yet available on the shooter’s motives, investigators are said to be anxious to review possible video evidence from inside the church, since the First Baptist Church typically video-tapes its Sunday services and posts them on the church’s YouTube page.

The shooter fled the scene and was killed shortly thereafter. A law enforcement official said later Sunday that it wasn’t clear whether the fatal shot was self-inflicted, or delivered by a local resident who had engaged the shooter with his own weapon.

The closest Catholic parish in the same area of Texas took to Facebook to express sympathy. Father Stanislaw Fiuk, the pastor of St. Anne Catholic Church in La Vernia, said he’s praying for the dead and also the living, that we may have “peace in our hearts,” and the parish called for parishioners to deliver snacks and water to first responders.

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