WASHINGTON — The president of the U.S. bishops’ conference has condemned the shooting at a synagogue near San Diego on April 27 and offered prayers for those affected.
“I, along with my brother bishops, am greatly saddened and deeply concerned over the news that another house of worship has been subjected to violence,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.
“Our country should be better than this,” he said in a statement released April 28.
“Our world should be beyond such acts of hatred and anti-Semitism. This attack joins an all-too-long list of attacks against innocent people, people of all faiths, who only want to gather and to pray,” he said.
The shooting at Chabad of Poway Synagogue in Poway, California, killed one and injured three others. The shooter has been arrested and charged with murder. This is the second deadly shooting at a synagogue in six months. The shooter, John Earnest, wrote and published an anti-Semitic manifesto before the attack.
Earnest has also claimed responsibility for a March arson attack on a mosque in Escondido, California.
San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy also expressed his closeness to the local Jewish community.
“Our hearts go out to everyone at Chabad House Poway for the senseless violence that took place earlier today. Houses of worship should be places of peace. Know that the entire Catholic community of San Diego and Imperial Counties is keeping you in our prayers,” Bishop McElroy said in a statement.
The bishop asked that all the parishes of the diocese offer a special prayer for the victims of anti-Semitism at Sunday Mass and circulated a draft for inclusion in the prayers of the faithful.
“For the victims of the Chabad shootings and their families; for the Jewish community, our elder brothers in faith, who are once again subjected to the evil of anti-Semitic hatred and violence, this time in our own diocese; and for our world, so consumed by anger and division, that we might understand that the gift of peace you give in today’s Gospel is a command for us to love every man and woman in the human family; we pray to the Lord.”
Cardinal DiNardo said that violence in the name of religion or committed against people of faith was always and everywhere intolerable.
“Unfortunately,” he said, “both in the past and today, too many preach such hatred in the name of God. This cannot be abided; it must end.”
The cardinal’s statement echoes the message from Pope Francis condemning anti-Semitism. In March, speaking to representatives from the American Jewish Committee, the Holy Father said that, for Christians, anti-Semitism is “a rejection of one’s own origins” and a “complete contradiction.”
At the March audience, Pope Francis referred to interfaith dialogue as an “important tool” in increasing understanding between Judaism and Christianity and stressed the importance of forming a new generation of young people who are committed to interreligious dialogue.
Citing the “rich spiritual heritage” shared by Christians and Jews, the Pope said that members of both faiths should seek each other out during this time of “depersonalizing secularism” in the Western world.
The shooting follows the devastating attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue last year.
On Oct. 27, 48-year-old Robert Bowers entered Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue equipped with an assault rifle and three handguns. Shouting anti-Semitic slogans, Bowers killed eight men and three women. He also injured six others, including four policemen. After a shootout with Pittsburgh police and SWAT, Bowers was wounded and eventually surrendered.
Following that attack, several Pennsylvania bishops issued condemnations of the rising tide of anti-Semitism.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said: “Religious and ethnic hatred is vile in any form, but the ugly record of the last century is a lesson in the special evil of anti-Semitism. It has no place in America, and especially in the hearts of Christians.”
Scranton’s Bishop Joseph Bambera, who is the head of the Committee for Ecumenism and Interreligious Affairs at the USCCB, issued a statement April 28, claiming the act of violence to be cowardly.
“Anti-Semitism is to be condemned and has to be confronted by our nation. The Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stands with our Jewish brothers and sisters during this time of great distress. May God grant peace to the dead, healing to the injured, and comfort to the families of those hurt and killed and to all the Jewish community.”