ROME – Hours after two mass shootings left a total of at least 29 people dead in the United States, Pope Francis on Sunday voiced his “spiritual closeness” to victims and their families.

“I am spiritually close to the victims of the violent episodes which in these days has bloodied Texas, California and Ohio in the United States, striking defenseless people,” the pope said Aug. 4, inviting Catholics “to unite with me in my prayer for those who have lost their lives, for the wounded, and for their families.”

The pope’s words came at the end of his weekly Sunday Angelus address. The condolences come in the wake of three mass shootings which have ravaged the United States in three different cities over the past week.

On Aug. 3 in El Paso, Texas, a mass shooting left some 20 people dead and an additional 26 others injured at a crowded Walmart Supercenter at the Cielo Vista Mall. Reports have identified the alleged shooter as Patrick Crusius, 21, of Allen, Texas, who is in custody.

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Hours after the El Paso massacre, another mass shooting took place around 1 a.m. Sunday morning at a popular downtown area in Dayton, Ohio, where 10 people, including the shooter, have died and at least 16 have been injured, according to CNN.

Last Sunday, exactly one week ago, there was another mass shooting in Gilroy, California at the city’s annual garlic festival. At least three people were killed and 15 others injured when 19-year-old Santino William Legan opened fire with an assault rifle at the festival. Among those who died were a 6-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl.

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Authorities on the scene at the Ohio shooting have speculated that it could have been a copy-cat of the El Paso incident, CNN reports, however, these speculations have not been confirmed.

Before closing his remarks, Pope Francis offered a moment of silence and the recitation of a “Hail Mary” in remembrance of all those impacted by this week’s three mass shootings.

Follow Elise Harris on Twitter: @eharris_it

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