Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami urged Broward County to unity, mutual support, and strength after a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland killed at least 17 students and teachers and injured dozens more. Parkland is in the Archdiocese of Miami.
In a statement published on the diocesan website, Wenski said he offered his prayers as well as those of the Catholic community for everyone affected by this “senseless tragedy.”
“We pray for the deceased and wounded, for their families and loved ones, for our first responders and our entire South Florida community,” said Wenski.
Wenski urged Floridians to rise above their “understandable outrage,” and “come together as a community to support one another” in the aftermath of the shooting. With the Lord’s help, Wenski said, “we can remain strong and resolute to resist evil in all its manifestations.”
“May God heal the broken hearted and comfort the sorrowing as we once again face as a nation another act of senseless violence and horrifying evil.”
USCCB President Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston echoed Wenski’s sentiment, and issued a call Wednesday evening for Christians to “unite our prayers and sacrifices for the healing and consolation of all those who have been affected by violence...and for a conversation of heart, that our communities and nation will be marked by peace.”
DiNardo said the USCCB was “deeply saddened” by Wednesday’s shooting, and would be praying for an end to gun violence. “I pray also for unity in seeking to build toward a society with fewer tragedies caused by senseless gun violence,” he said.
A 19-year-old former student of the school, who had been expelled for “disciplinary reasons,” stormed Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday afternoon and opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle. The alleged shooter has a history of violence and has been treated for mental illness.
Students at the school posted videos and photos of the shooting and its aftermath as it unfolded. The shooter was arrested by police about an hour after the attack and remains in custody.
This is the third-deadliest school shooting in American history.