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Leaders pray for victims, families and urge stricter gun laws after Las Vegas massacre

Senseless violence: A woman cries while hiding inside the Sands Corporation plane hangar after a mass shooting in which 59 people were killed at the Route 91 Harvest country festival on Sunday, October 1, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: CNS

RELIGIOUS leaders across the world were praying for an end to “senseless violence” after 59 people were killed and more than 500 wounded by a gunman in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The gunman was perched in a room on the 32nd floor of a hotel and unleashed a shower of bullets late on October 1 on an outdoor country music festival taking place below.

The crowd at the event numbered more than 22,000.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said it was “the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history”.

“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,” he said.

The nation has experienced “yet another night filled with unspeakable terror”, and “we need to pray and to take care of those who are suffering”, he said.

“Our hearts go out to everyone,” Bishop Joseph Pepe of Las Vegas said. “We are praying for those who have been injured, those who have lost their lives, for the medical personnel and first responders who, with bravery and self-sacrifice, have helped so many.

“We are also very heartened by the stories of all who helped each other in this time of crisis. As the Gospel 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.”

He said an early interfaith prayer service took place at the city’s Cathedral of the Guardian Angels and invited “our sisters and brothers around the world to join us in prayer for healing and for an end to violence”.

In a telegram, Holy See secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Pope Francis was “deeply saddened to learn of the shooting in Las Vegas” and “sends the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all those affected by this senseless tragedy”.

“He commends the efforts of the police and emergency service 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,” he said.

The barrage of shots came from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino complex on the Las Vegas Strip.

Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters that, once police officers determined where the gunshots were coming from, they stormed the room and killed the suspect.

News reports also said law enforcement believed the suspect was a “lone wolf” in planning and carrying out the attack.

“At this time, we need to pray and to take care of those who are suffering,” Cardinal DiNardo said in his statement.

“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.”

Catholic bishops and other Catholic leaders around the country issued statements expressing sadness at the horrific developments in Las Vegas, offering prayers for the victims and praising first responders, volunteers and bystanders for their efforts at the scene.

“Once again we must reach out in shock and horror to comfort the victims of a mass shooting in our country,” Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago said.

“We reaffirm our commitment to non-violence and to addressing the causes of such tragedies,” he said. “At this time we come together in prayer and also in resolve to change a culture that has allowed such events to become commonplace.

“We must not become numb to these mass shootings or to the deadly violence that occurs on our streets month in and month out.”

Cardinal Cupich called for better access to mental health care and “stronger, sensible gun control laws”.

“Jesus is weeping with us and for us,” Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik said.

“It is time for us as a nation to require at least as much from those purchasing guns as we expect from those making application for a driver’s license. Public safety must always come first.”

He called on lawmakers “to make it far more difficult for those with dangerously impaired moral reasoning, criminals and terrorists to make their point with a gun” and urged better access to mental health care “for those who may be prone to violence”.

“Join with me in prayer that we as a nation will seek to build a society in which the right to life is the standard against which all other rights are measured,” he said.

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