“Horror and Condemnation”: Christian Leaders Respond to Orlando Attacks

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Russell Moore, Twitter / ChurchPOP

“Pope Francis joins the families of the victims and all of the injured in prayer and in compassion,” a statement from the Vatican says. “Sharing in their indescribable suffering he entrusts them to the Lord so they may find comfort.”

That is just one of many statements of Christian leaders around the world in response to the tragedy in Orlando, FL. A gunman opened fire in a gay club, killing 50 and wounding at least 53. It’s the deadliest shooting in U.S. history. Though it’s still early into the investigation, it appears that the gunman was motivated by Islamic extremism.

“The terrible massacre… has caused in Pope Francis, and in all of us,” the statement from the Vatican also says, “the deepest feelings of horror and condemnation, of pain and turmoil before this new manifestation of homicidal folly and senseless hatred.”

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops president Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, KY also condemned the violence and called for prayer in an official statement. “Waking up to the unspeakable violence in Orlando reminds us of how precious human life is. Our prayers are with the victims, their families and all those affected by this terrible act.”

“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.”

Robert George, Princeton professor and public Catholic, called for a time of mourning on Facebook. “This is a time for mourning the victims and resolving to fight the enemy and prevent or repel future attacks. It’s not a time for pushing agendas, whether of the left or right. Exploiting something like this to advance ideological agendas ought to be out of bounds.”

Evangelical Christian leaders have also been sharing messages of prayer and solidarity.

“Fifty lives gone, at least. Fifty people made in the image of God. Horrific and heartbreaking,” tweeted Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

He added in another tweet: “Christian, your gay or lesbian neighbor is probably really scared right now. Whatever our genuine disagreements, let’s love and pray.”

“Heartbroken by what has happened in Orlando,” Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church, said on Twitter. “Join me today in praying for the families and victims of this tragedy.”

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of some responses so far:

Pope Francis

From Vatican Radio:

The terrible massacre that has taken place in Orlando, with its 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. 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.

USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)

Robert George

On Facebook:

This is a time for mourning the victims and resolving to fight the enemy and prevent or repel future attacks. It’s not a time for pushing agendas, whether of the left or right. Exploiting something like this to advance ideological agendas ought to be out of bounds.

President Obama should not have done it. Those of us on the other side should not do it. This attack could not have been prevented by gun control legislation. It could not have been prevented by tougher immigration laws or more aggressive enforcement of the immigration laws we have. Moreover, people should not seize on this national tragedy to advance either a gay rights or an anti-Muslim agenda.

No agendas. Period. Mourn and resolve to fight the so-called Islamic State and those who have pledged allegiance to it. Hang together across the lines of political division. My two cents.

Russell Moore

See also his piece for TIME, “Can We Still Weep Together After Orlando?

Rick Warren

Father Rocky

Albert Mohler

Various bishops (non-exhaustive)