BRIDGEPORT, Connecticut, DEC. 18, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The Church in the United States is responding to Friday's mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school with widespread assurances of support and prayer.
Newtown, in the Diocese of Bridgeport, was the site of a massacre of 20 six- and seven-year-old school children and six staff from Sandy Hook Elementary School. The shooter also killed his mother and himself.
There is currently no bishop for the Diocese of Bridgeport, as the former bishop, William E. Lori, was assigned to Baltimore in March.
However Archbishop Lori sent a statement assuring the local Church of his prayers.
"Along with you, and along with the rest of our nation and, indeed, the rest of the world, I was shocked and horrified to learn of what had taken place in Newtown so suddenly and terribly on Friday morning. I was in Rome for meetings, and it was early evening there when I heard," Archbishop Lori wrote. "Since that moment, my heart has been heavy, and I can't stop thinking about everyone in Newtown, especially the victims, the children, and their families. So I just wanted to say very sincerely and simply that I am close to all of you in my thoughts and prayers right now."
The prelate added, "We cannot allow ourselves to lose hope, but indeed, now more than ever, must strengthen one another through our friendships in Christ, and our unity of faith in him and his resurrection."
"I have been thinking very much of the words of Blessed John Paul II," he continued, "who once said, 'To receive Jesus Christ means believing that in the history of humanity, even though it is marked by evil and suffering, the final word belongs to life, and to love, because God came to dwell among us, so we might dwell in Him.'
"So in these days of Advent, let us not forget that, as we read in Saint John's Gospel, 'The light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.'"
"Our lives will never be the same," Archbishop Lori acknowledged. "But neither will we have to face a single day without the strength and peace that only Christ can give to us. In that strength and in that peace I am very much united with you today."
The administrator governing the diocese while the see is vacant, Monsignor Jerald A. Doyle, affirmed the concern and support of the diocese.
"I want to thank Monsignor Weiss and Fathers Ortigas and Suarez for their presence and care immediately on learning what was taking place at the school," he added. "I assure you that the Diocese is ready and willing to make available whatever resources it can to assist those affected by this tragedy, including counselors from Catholic Charities."
Culture of violence
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the US bishops' conference, noted how "the tragedy of innocent people dying through violence shatters the peace of all."
In a statement, the USCCB president pledged "prayerful support."
"We pray that the peace that passes understanding be with them as they deal with the injuries they have sustained and with the deaths of their beautiful children," he said.
The cardinal also urged peace. "Once again," he said, "we speak against the culture of violence infecting our country even as we prepare to welcome the Prince of Peace at Christmas. All of us are called to work for peace in our homes, our streets and our world, now more than ever."
Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, New Jersey, was one of the many who have offered support.
"This past weekend, which in the season of Advent we call Gaudete Sunday -- a time to rejoice in preparation of the coming of Our Savior -- the word Tragedy took on a new meaning for all of us," he said. "What happened in Newtown, CT, chilled us not only because of its proximity to New Jersey, but also because, in the faces of the victims, we saw our own children, our own teachers and neighbors."
To the parents and faculty of schools and religious education programs, the archbishop said: "Now is a time for consolation, for brave thoughts, and for turning fear into love – both for those who have perished in Newtown, and for our own children here in New Jersey."