- Mar 2, 2021
Why do attacks on gays, Muslims, Jews, and other minority groups generate a vast examination of conscience, while acts of hatred or contempt directed at Christians generally provoke basic silence? In part, perhaps, it’s because in the popular Western imagination, Christians aren’t a minority, but that perception has little relationship with contemporary reality.
The U.S. Embassy to the Holy See and Santa Susanna parish, the parish serving U.S. Catholics in Rome, organized an evening prayer service June 16 attended by around 100 people. Ken Hackett, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, mentioned several victims by name and noted that “many were also a part of the LGBT community, a community that has seen more than its share of suffering and tragedy.”
Just hours after the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando called the Pulse that left 50 dead, including the gunman, and more than 50 wounded, six bilingual staffers from Catholic Charities arrived at the Hampton Inn in downtown Orlando, a meeting place for family and friends of the victims.
Author Matthew Vines says that the problem with some well-meaning statements of support is that “so many Christians still talk about the LGBT community like they’re not a part of the church, and like they’re not part of the same family.”
Orlando Bishop John G. Noonan says “a sword has pierced the heart of our city,” asking all parishes in the nine-county diocese in central Florida to include prayer intentions during Sunday Masses and planning to lead an evening prayer vigil for the community — called a “Vigil to Dry Tears” — at St. James Cathedral in Orlando Monday night.
The strong desire to do something in the wake of the Orlando massacre, perhaps flowing from justified outrage, is totally understandable. Some insist that prayer is a smokescreen for inaction, but we should pray — not only for the victims, but for a gun-obsessed culture like ours that’s deeply unhealthy and even sick.