Mourners light candles at a makeshift memorial at the scene of a shooting in Buffalo, NY Mourners light candles at a makeshift memorial at the scene of a shooting in Buffalo, NY   (2022 Getty Images)

US Bishops pray for victims of Buffalo, Laguna Woods shootings

Bishops in the United States express sorrow over two deadly shootings in New York and California in the past days, and call for an honest dialogue in addressing the “persistent evil of racism” within the country.

By Benedict Mayaki, SJ

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is offering prayers for the support and healing of families, friends, and communities of those impacted by the violent incidents in Buffalo, New York, and Laguna Woods, California, over the weekend.

On Saturday, an 18-year-old man opened fire at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, killing ten people and wounding three others. The following day, a gunman attacked a lunch banquet in a Taiwanese church in Laguna Woods, killing one person and wounding five others. The shootings are not related.

In a statement on Monday, the Bishops offered prayers for the injured and those who lost their lives, as well as for those on the front lines who risk their lives responding to calls for help, and for those in the medical fields who minister to those who have been harmed.

Buffalo shooting: Racially motivated?

Reports on the deadly incident in Buffalo say that the shooter, a white male, drove to Tops Friendly Market in the afternoon of 14 May, clad in military gear and live streaming with a helmet camera, and opened fire with an assault weapon on the victims.

Police said that he shot eleven black and two white victims before surrendering to authorities. He was later arraigned on first-degree murder charges.

The deadly shooting in Buffalo has been described by authorities as a “hate crime and racially motivated extremism.”

In a statement, US President Biden said he and the first lady were praying for the victims and their families. He added that there is still more to be learned about the motivation for the shooting as law enforcement does its work.

However, “We don’t need anything else to state a clear moral truth: A racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation,” Biden said. “Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America.”

US Vice President, Kamala Harris also expressed sorrow for the victims of the attack and added that the “epidemic of hate across our country that has been evidenced by acts of violence and intolerance” must be called out and condemned.

“Racially-motivated hate crimes or acts of violent extremism are harms against all of us, and we must do everything we can to ensure that our communities are safe from such acts,” Harris said.

Laguna Woods shooting

Law enforcement officials in the US state of California also suspect that the gunman who opened fire at a church in Laguna Woods, California, on Sunday, may have been motivated by political hatred of Taiwan.

The shooter, a man in his 60s, targeted the Geneva Presbyterian Church on Sunday, which is frequented by many people of Taiwanese descent. The churchgoers had just finished their morning service and were gathered for lunch when gunfire erupted. One person was killed and five other senior citizens were injured in the attack before the attacker was stopped and hog-tied by parishioners from the church.

An official of the Orange Country Sheriff’s office said that the shooter left notes in his car stating that he did not believe Taiwan should be independent of China. 

According to the official, the shooter, who is of Chinese descent, had lived in the US for many years but also resided in Taiwan at some point. It is believed that his hatred of Taiwan may be related to his experiences while living there.

Call for dialogue on racism

In their Monday statement, the US Bishops called for “an honest dialogue rooted in Christ in addressing the persistent evil of racism in our country” and highlighted the role of the Church as a “consistent voice for rational yet effective forms of regulation of dangerous weapons.”

The USCCB also restated its commitment to advocating for “an end to violence, and for the respect and dignity of all lives.”

Concluding their statement, the Bishops prayed for “support and healing of the communities impacted and for all the victims of violence and that Christ’s peace be upon all affected.”



17 May 2022, 11:36