Pope Francis voices sorrow for 'devastating' Florida school attack

Pope Francis and a cross during the Stations of the Cross at the Coliseum in Rome, Italy on April 3, 2015. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano.
Pope Francis and a cross during the Stations of the Cross at the Coliseum in Rome, Italy on April 3, 2015. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano.

.- On Thursday, Pope Francis assured his spiritual closeness to all those affected by a deadly shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 dead, offering prayer for the victims and voicing hope that such acts of violence would end.

In a Feb. 15 letter addressed to Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, the Pope said he was “deeply saddened to learn of the tragic shooting” that took place yesterday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the letter assured all those affected by the “devastating attack” of the Pope's spiritual closeness, saying he prays “that Almighty God may grant eternal rest to the dead and healing and consolation to the wounded and those who grieve.”

“With the hope that such senseless acts of violence may cease, Pope Francis invokes upon all of you the divine blessings of peace and strength.”

The Pope's telegram comes the day after a former student stormed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle, killing at least 17 students and teachers and injuring dozens more, according to reports.

The 19-year-old suspected shooter had been expelled from the school for “disciplinary reasons.” He is said to have a history of violence and has been treated for mental illness.

Students at the school posted videos and photos of the shooting – the third largest school shooting in American history – and its aftermath as it unfolded. The suspected shooter was arrested by police about an hour after the attack and remains in custody.

In a statement published on the diocesan website, Archbishop 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.

He 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.”

Tags: Prayer, Catholic News, Pope Francis, Shootings