With each repeated occurrence of mass shootings in schools, theaters, churches and social settings it appears increasingly clear that any hope for thwarting these tragedies must begin with more effective legislation and enforcement of who has access to guns and under what conditions.
As our society faces the massive and violent assault on human life in Orlando on Sunday, the Archdiocese of Boston offers and encourages prayers on behalf of those who were killed in the attack, those who were injured, and all their families and friends. At this time our prayers are also with Bishop Noonan and the Diocese of Orlando, with the wider community of Orlando, and for our country, once again confronted by the face of hatred expressed through gun violence.
Yet another lament about the prevalence of guns throughout our society seems a pale response to the horror of the crimes in Orlando. With each repeated occurrence of mass shootings in schools, theaters, churches and social settings it appears increasingly clear that any hope for thwarting these tragedies must begin with more effective legislation and enforcement of who has access to guns and under what conditions. However, legislation alone will not be sufficient as there are wider and deeper forces at work in these attacks.
The United States proudly upholds its long-standing tradition of being open and welcoming to those in need of a safe haven. Our country greatly benefits from human creativity and achievement cultivated without distinction of race, ethnicity, religion, nationality or any other differentiating characteristic. From a multitude of differences we have sought unity. We must meet the challenges of combining freedom, pluralism and unity in our increasingly diverse society if the United States is to continue to be a beacon of hope to the world.
Achieving the unity which promotes peaceful coexistence means addressing those deeper forces which threaten our well-being. In all aspects of our lives, including our government, the private sector, our faith communities and our schools, we must be aware of and reflect on how we think and speak about those who are different from us. And we cannot allow ourselves to be defeated by the worst instincts in human nature, by efforts to divide us based on our differences or by an immobilizing fear.
Defeat in the face of the tragedies that we have seen in Florida, Texas, Colorado, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Arizona is not conceivable. Resistance is necessary; resolution is imperative. The resources to resist and the courage of resolve are on display each day in our society. Those who risked their lives in the midst of the assault on Sunday, the first responders and the friends at each other's side in the midst of the terror, symbolize the kind of generosity of spirit which makes our country great. Together let us go forward with the commitment to work for the meaningful change that will help our country and all her people to live in safety and peace."
Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, OFM Cap. Is Archbishop of Boston