Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles entrusted the victims of a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that left at least 19 children and two adults dead to Our Lady of Guadalupe, asking that she “take the victims of this violence in her tender arms, and bring comfort to those who mourn, and healing those who are hurt.”
“Friends, let us open our hearts to our brothers and sisters in Uvalde, Texas tonight,” tweeted the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops the evening of May 24. “We pray for the dead: Lord, eternal rest grant unto them and let perpetual light shine upon them!”
The archbishop also asked that “God grant peace to every heart that is troubled tonight. We ask this in Jesus’ name.”
Texas authorities said an 18-year-old wearing body armor evaded police after crashing his truck near an elementary school close to the U.S-Mexico border and entered the school building at around noon armed with two assault weapons.
Hours later, Pope Francis also reacted to the shooting at the end of his weekly Wednesday general audience May 25, saying that it was time to say "Enough!" and enact stricter laws on gun sales.
"With a heart shattered over the massacre at the elementary school in Texas, I pray for the children and adults who were killed and for their families," the pope told the crowd.
"It is time to say, 'Enough!' to the indiscriminate trafficking of guns," the pope said. "Let's all work to ensure that such tragedies never happen again."
In addition to the dead, reports say 15 children were injured as well as two law enforcement officers. Authorities named Salvador Ramos as the shooter and said he was killed by police. He also is said to have shot his grandmother, who remains in the hospital.
San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller comforted families who waited outside a local civic center in Uvalde waiting for news of their loved ones.
"When will these insane acts of violence end?" the archbishop later said in a statement. "It is too great a burden to bear. The word tragedy doesn't begin to describe what occurred. These massacres cannot be considered 'the new normal.'"
"The Catholic Church consistently calls for the protection of all life; and these mass shootings are a most pressing life issue on which all in society must act -- elected leaders and citizens alike," he said. "We pray that God comfort and offer compassion to the families of these little ones whose pain is unbearable."
Chieko Noguchi, director of public affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops, said the organization joined Archbishop García-Siller in prayers for the community.
"There have been too many school shootings, too much killing of the innocent. Our Catholic faith calls us to pray for those who have died and to bind the wounds of others," she said in a statement. "As we do so, each of us also needs to search our souls for ways that we can do more to understand this epidemic of evil and violence and implore our elected officials to help us take action."
Another Texas bishop, Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, tweeted May 25: "Don't tell me that guns aren't the problem, people are. I'm sick of hearing it. The darkness first takes our children who then kill our children, using the guns that are easier to obtain than aspirin. We sacralize death's instruments and then are surprised that death uses them."