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placeholder June 27, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 12   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers

A man prays June 15 in front of photographs of victims of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., during a vigil at a church in Orlando.
Jim Young/Reuters, cns

Orlando bishop: 'Recognize dignity of all'

ORLANDO, Fla. — In Orlando and major cities around the nation and the world, people gathered June 13 and afterward to pay tribute to those killed and injured in a terrorist shooting rampage in Orlando the previous day. About 700 people also gathered to pray for those attacked and for peace in the world at St. James Cathedral, less than two miles up the street from where the shootings took place at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando.

The interfaith prayer service was led by Orlando Bishop John G. Noonan, who was joined on the altar by Bishop Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg, 10 priests of the Orlando diocese and other religious leaders. "Our presence here tonight is a symbol of hope. We come to pray," said Bishop Noonan. He was joined by Imam Tariq Rashid, of the Islamic Center of Orlando; Bishop Greg Brewer, of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida; Deacon Michael Matheny, of St. Luke Episcopal Cathedral; Huseyin Peker, the Atlantic Institute-Central Florida; the Rev. Tom McCloskey, of First United Methodist Church in Orlando; and the Revs. John Harris, Downtown Baptist Church, and the Rev. Robert Spooney, of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church.

"We come not as different religions but one in the Lord," said Bishop Noonan, who noted that he was familiar with violence in his home country of Ireland and stressed that people will only find peace when they recognize the dignity of all people as children of God.

Catholic Charities of Central Florida has been working in the background to help victims, survivors and family members in whatever way possible. Just hours after the shooting, six bilingual staffers from Catholic Charities arrived at the Hampton Inn in downtown Orlando, a meeting place for family and friends of the victims.

In Washington, members of Congress stood on the steps of the Capitol June 13 with members of the gay and Muslim communities to pay tribute to the victims of the terror attack. Jesuit Father Patrick Conroy, the 60th chaplain of the House of Representatives, led the vigil with a prayer calling for peace and an end to "violence against populations of people who are identifiable for who they are, whom they love, what they believe or what race they belong to."

The attack killed 49 people and wounded at least 50 more. The gunman, who claimed ties to the Mideast terror group ISIS, took his own life.

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