WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 12, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The president of the U.S. bishops’ conference is denouncing Tuesday’s shooting at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. that killed a security guard.
In a press release publicized Thursday, Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, stated that the shooting “was a deplorable act of violence and a violation of a hallowed space in our nation’s capital.”
He affirmed that “by preserving the memory of the six million Jews who died in the Shoah, the museum speaks to the consciences of all who pass through its doors and hear the powerful stories of the innocent men, women and children who lost their lives at the hands of a criminal regime.”
“Each year,” the cardinal affirmed, “millions of visitors to the museum learn of the dangers of unchecked hatred and of the need to prevent genocide wherever it threatens.”
“This tragic incident only serves to reinforce the need for continued education throughout society against bias of every kind, but most especially racial and religious prejudice,” he added.
Cardinal George offered “prayerful condolences” in the name of all the U.S. bishops “to the family of Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns, who died in the line of duty, and to the staff of the museum who endured this appalling act of violence.”
He underlined the commitment of the Catholic bishops to protect “the sacredness of all human life” and promote “human dignity and interreligious peace throughout our nation.”
The cardinal concluded by reiterating the words of Benedict XVI in his Jan. 28 general audience, “May the Shoah be a warning for all against forgetfulness, denial or reductionism, because violence committed against one single human being is violence against all.”
The shooter was identified as a white supremacist and Holocaust denier, James von Brunn, 88, who opened fire in the museum and killed the 39-year-old guard.
In a statement on the Web site of the Washington archdiocese, Archbishop Donald Wuerl stated that this “senseless killing” is “particularly distressing given the museum’s special mission to educate our world about violence and be a living reminder of the harm that comes from hatred and anger.”
He expressed the hope that the tragedy would be “a call to each of us for a renewed commitment to building a world of peace and respect for all people.”