VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis and Church leaders in the United States prayed for the victims and the families affected by the June 12 shooting at a nightclub in Orlando that killed 50 people.
In a June 12 statement, Father Federico Lombardi, the Holy See press officer, said the “terrible massacre,” which has left a “dreadfully high number of innocent victims, has caused in Pope Francis, and in all of us, the deepest feelings of horror and condemnation, of pain and turmoil before this new manifestation of homicidal folly and senseless hatred.”
“Pope Francis joins the families of the victims and all of the injured in prayer and in compassion,” the statement reads. “Sharing in their indescribable suffering, he entrusts them to the Lord, so they may find comfort.”
“We all hope that ways may be found, as soon as possible, to effectively identify and contrast the causes of such terrible and absurd violence, which so deeply upsets the desire for peace of the American people and of the whole of humanity.”
At least 50 people were killed and 53 were injured in the early hours of June 12, when a gunman identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen exchanged fire with a police officer working at Pulse nightclub, which caters to homosexual clientele.
Mateen, who was from Florida and was of Afghan descent, took hostages for as much as three hours and was shot to death by SWAT officers. Though the mass violence is thought to be ideologically motivated, he was not known to have links to any terrorist groups.
The death toll makes the Orlando shooting the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
Bishop John Noonan of Orlando, Fla., tweeted on Sunday saying, “We pray for victims of the mass shooting in Orlando this morning, their families & our first responders. May the Lord’s mercy be upon us.”
Bishop Noonan was joined in mourning and prayer by Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Neb., who tweeted: “Please join me in praying for the victims of violence, and their families and loved ones, in Orlando.”
“Waking up to the unspeakable violence in Orlando reminds us of how precious human life is,” said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, in a statement.
“Our prayers are with the victims, their families and all those affected by this terrible act.”
Bishop William Lori of Baltimore also voiced his grief over the shooting, in a tweet sent from his archdiocese, asking as well for prayers for the victims.
In his statement, Archbishop Kurtz wrote that the “merciful love of Christ calls us to solidarity with the suffering and to ever greater resolve in protecting the life and dignity of every person.”