By Christopher White
The Tablet National Correspondent
Pope Francis sent a telegram expressing closeness and concern via Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin to Bishop Joseph Pepe of Las Vegas, following the deadliest mass shooting in United States history.
“Pope Francis sends the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all those affected by this senseless tragedy,” said Cardinal Parolin.
“He commends the efforts of those police and emergency services personnel, and offers the promise of his prayers for the injured and for all who have died, entrusting them to the merciful love of almighty God.”
As of Monday afternoon, over 50 people had been declared dead and more than 500 injured after a gunman opened fire at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas on Sunday evening. The massacre is the largest death toll from an attack in the United States since the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
The shooting took place at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. A 64-year-old Stephen Paddock has been identified as the shooter and was killed by a self-inflicted gunshot wound before being overtaken by the police.
President Donald Trump addressed the nation on Monday morning, expressing his condolences to the victims and their families and issuing a plea for national unity.
“Scripture teaches us the Lord is close to the brokenhearted,” he said. “We know God lives in the hearts of those who grieve,” he added.
Bishop Joseph Pepe of Las Vegas released a statement expressing grief for the lives lost and gratitude for the first responders and all who have reached out to support the city.
“We are also very heartened by the stories of all who helped each other in this time of crisis,” he said. “As the Gospel for today’s Mass reminds us, we are called to be modern day Good Samaritans. We continue to pray for all in Las Vegas and around the world whose lives are shattered by the events of daily violence.”
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, released a statement on Monday mourning the loss of life and issuing a plea for goodness to triumph over evil.
“We woke this morning and learned of yet another night filled with unspeakable terror, this time in the city of Las Vegas, and by all accounts, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history,” said Cardinal DiNardo. “My heart and my prayers, and those of my brother bishops and all the members of the Church, go out to the victims of this tragedy and to the city of Las Vegas.”
“At this time, we need to pray and to take care of those who are suffering. In the end, the only response is to do good – for no matter what the darkness, it will never overcome the light. May the Lord of all gentleness surround all those who are suffering from this evil, and for those who have been killed we pray, eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them,” he said.
In a statement posted to Facebook on Monday morning, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago said he was “praying for victims and loved ones of those harmed by the horrific shooting in Vegas. Grateful for the first responders caring for the wounded.”
Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston tweeted: “May God bless all first responders as they care for the victims of last night’s violence.”
The Archdiocese of Washington released a statement via Facebook stating: “This morning, we offer our prayers and concerns for those who have died in Las Vegas, those who were wounded and their families. May the Lord bring them peace. #prayforvegas.”
The Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, announced that it would celebrate its noon Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Thomas More for the victims of the attack.
John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America, also issued a statement on Monday morning.
“As a community of faith, our University offers its prayers for the victims and their families, the first responders, and the healthcare workers who are caring for the injured,” said Garvey. “I ask that we meet this moment by cultivating peace with our words and deeds in our own community.”
President John Jenkins of the University of Notre Dame also weighed in on the tragedy saying, “We pray that there comes a day when the senseless violence that has plagued the nation for so long ends for good.”
The bells of Notre Dame’s basilica will ring from 3-3:05 p.m. on Monday to memorialize those affected by the events in Las Vegas.
On Monday evening there will be an interfaith prayer service at the Cathedral of the Guardian Angels led by Bishop Pepe.
“(We) invite our sisters and brothers around the world to join us in prayer for healing and for an end to violence,” said Bishop Pepe.