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Episcopal leaders respond to massacre in Newtown

Episcopal leaders respond to massacre in Newtown

Updated at bottom with additional statements at 1:25

Episcopal Church leaders have begun to respond to the massacre yesterday in Newtown, Connecticut. Here are some of their responses.

The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Washington National Cathedral:

The horrific shooting of children and adults in Newtown, Connecticut, is a tragedy that elicits both our grief and our moral outrage on behalf of the victims and their families. In a political climate unwilling to address the realities of gun violence in America, a wide range of faith traditions including the Episcopal Church has strongly advocated gun control for several decades.

Washington National Cathedral pledges to pray for the victims, their families, the assailant, and the survivors. And we pledge to work with our national leaders to enact more effective gun control measures. As a worshiping community we invite all who grieve over this shooting to join us in prayer, worship, and action in the days ahead.

Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Diocese of Washington:

Thus says the Lord:?

A voice is heard in Ramah,

lamentation and bitter weeping.?

Rachel is weeping for her children;

she refuses to be comforted for her children,?

because they are no more. Jeremiah 31:15-17

We are united tonight in grief.

Tomorrow shall we unite in resolve to ban weapons whose only purpose is to kill large numbers of people?

And to make it as easy to get mental health care as it is to buy a gun?

I join Dean Gary Hall of Washington National Cathedral in calling on our national leaders to enact more effective gun control measures. We know from experience that such calls go unheeded. But what if this time, you and I took up this issue and wouldn’t put it down until something was done? You will be hearing more about this from the dean and me in the days ahead, but for the moment, let us join in lamentation, in mourning and in prayer. Today we grieve, but soon we act.

Arise, cry out in the night,?

as the watches of the night begin;?

pour out your heart like water?

in the presence of the Lord.?

Lift up your hands to him?

for the lives of your children Lamentations 2.19

Bishop Jeff Lee of the Diocese of Chicago:

I am heartbroken and horrified by the news of the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, this morning. People who live in the Diocese of Chicago are achingly familiar with the fear, anxiety and grief that comes from living in an area in which guns are too readily available and too frequently used. Yet even as someone who lives with the shaming reality that we cannot protect our young people from gun violence, I am stunned by the madness that unfolded today in Connecticut.

Please join me in praying for the repose of the souls of the victims of this violence, for the recovery of those who were wounded, for the families and friends who must deal with an unfathomable grief, for the vital ministries of law enforcement officers, first responders, and the counselors and clergy who face such a challenging task in the aftermath of these murders.

Pray for the people of the Diocese of Connecticut, for St. John’s Sandy Hook, and Trinity Church, Newtown, the Episcopal churches closest to the shooting. Pray for our political leaders, that they may find the will and the wisdom to at least diminish the prospects that another community will have to live through this nightmare. Pray too, for the repose of the soul of the young man who somehow brought himself to take so many lives. Pray as an act of hope and faith that God is with us, even and especially in times such as this.

Bishop Leo Frade of the Diocese of Southeast Florida:

Enough is enough and we are not going to take it anymore. It is time for us and our government to take action to control the sale of guns that are more appropriate for war than for hunting. Politicians who keep supporting the gun lobby need to share the responsibility of the multiple killings that have taken place over and over in our country.

The murder of 20 little children and 7 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut; the multiple killings at a screening of a movie at a theater in Aurora, Colorado; the murder of 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech; the murder of Amish children in Pennsylvania; the murder of 12 students and the wounding of 20 at Columbine High School in Colorado; the 5 deaths and 18 wounded at Northern Illinois University– and the list goes on and on.

It’s time to say “no more” and to demand from our Congress a backing of the much needed gun control of weapons that are not even appropriate for hunting.

I call on Episcopalians of our diocese to reach out to our elected officials and ask them to take action and make a difference in providing a secure environment for our citizens. This is not about political philosophies, but about the survival of our children, and our own survival. If we don’t demand a stronger control of the unchecked use of automatic weapons, tragedies like the one we have just experienced will happen again.

Bishop Mark Hollingsworth of Ohio:

It is almost impossible to comprehend the depth of tragedy and heartbreak in yesterday morning’s shootings in Connecticut. In the coming days the media will be saturated with attempts to make some desperate sense of this, but of course there is no sense in it. It is, in the most profound way, utterly senseless. Once again, as we did with Columbine and Blacksburg and Chardon and countless other communities, we join with those in Newtown whose children and loved ones have been killed, and we grieve. And we wrap both the dead and those who survive them in our prayers and in our confidence that, even in the darkest moments of this horror, God was with each one of them, and is with each one of them now. Jesus, who “took the children in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them,” does so again today. In our mourning, we become part of his embrace.

If we are truly a people of the light, then in the weeks to come we must follow our grieving with change. In this land where we have so much, it is also senseless that we lack the ability to keep safe these most innocent among us. We have the capacity to change that, if we can find the will. We lead the developed world in so many things; tragically, that includes gun violence. May the darkness of these hours lead to a light in which we see clearly our responsibility to change that and find the courage to do so.

Bishop Rob Wright of Atlanta:

“Merciful God, whose own innocent Son was murdered, comfort the families of all those who were killed today in Newtown, Connecticut.

Assure us through your Spirit that they are in peace and joy now with You in that place where there is no sorrow or sighing. But, not only that gracious God, give us the will and the courage to confront our addiction to violence and guns.

Help our President and every elected official to find the resolve necessary to pass legislation that will make our nation great in safety and in peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Bishop Marc Andus of the Diocese of California:

The mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, is a terrible tragedy that takes our total attention, everything we can bring to bear in prayer. We know that we must look at, wrestle with, understand, and confront the root causes of these mass shootings that are occurring with greater and greater frequency across our country, and indeed throughout the world, and I commit myself to this work; it is essential. For the murderer to wear a mask, black clothing, and body armor, as some reports have said, in order to attack a school full of children is clearly the work of a deranged mind, but I suspect that beyond the individual gunman’s sickness there is something of terrible enormity in our culture that we must comprehend.

Now though is not the time for that work, or even to speculate about it beyond naming it. This is the time for mourning, and for standing with the families and loved ones of the victims; with the people of Newtown and Connecticut as a whole; and the Diocese of Connecticut. Standing, mute, most likely (as who has words for this sorrow?), but standing with hands upturned to a God who is completely, lovingly present with all that lives and dies on this planet.

I and the Diocese of California are standing in prayer with the Diocese of Connecticut, as we seek to absorb unspeakable sorrow.

Episcopal Relief and Development has also posted a statement on its web site.

Please point us to other responses by sending us the link or text in the comments.


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Elisabeth Brauza

Bishop R. William Franklin on Western New York:


My apologies for not including the link previously – the URL field confused me and I could not edit my previous response. (Some webmaster!)


+Nathan D. Baxter

Bishop, Diocese of Central Pennsylvania

(submitted here by Lesley A. Carter, webmaster, Diocese of CPA)

Leonardo Ricardo

+Marc Handley Andrus

Bishop, Diocese of California

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