The Episcopal bishops in Massachusetts join the nation in grief over yesterday’s shooting in Virginia as yet another manifestation of the constant, deadly gun violence which confronts us.
Our colleague bishops in Virginia and Washington have issued the following letter. We thank them for the clarity of their statement, commend it to our own people and join our prayers to theirs.
The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop, Diocese of Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Gayle E. Harris, Bishop Suffragan, Diocese of Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, Bishop, Diocese of Western Massachusetts
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Gun violence is not partisan
The Episcopal dioceses of Washington and Virginia are united in prayer for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Zachary Barth, Matt Mika and Capitol Police Officers Krystal Griner and David Bailey, that they may fully recover from their wounds. We’re praying for those who were in close proximity to the shooting, that they may heal from the trauma of witnessing such violence. We pray in gratitude for our community’s first responders and medical personnel who were there to protect and save lives. And we pray God’s mercy on the soul of James Hodgkinson.
Baseball brings Americans–and politicians– together. So does tragedy, as we look past our disagreements to care about those who suffer. In the wake of violence, the nation needed President Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to speak words of unity, and they did not disappoint us. Senator Bernie Sanders, upon learning that Mr. Hodgkinson had volunteered for his campaign, strongly condemned the shooting and violence of any kind.
The shooting of a public official is a threat to our democracy, and it reverberates throughout the halls of government. “An attack on one us,” Speaker Ryan said, “is an attack on all of us.” Gun violence is a bipartisan phenomenon. Today Representative Steve Scalise, a Republican, joins Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat, who was shot at an outdoor meeting with her constituents in 2011.
Gun violence is also a national tragedy: more than 13,000 Americans have been injured by gunfire in 2017. Nearly 7,000 more Americans have died. One statistic we don’t care about when counting the wounded and dead is political party affiliation.
Among these killed this year: Andrew McPaatter, a young African-American father, shot dead in the Congress Heights neighborhood Southeast Washington. His grieving seven-year old son Tyshaun, featured recently in The Washington Post, is one of the millions of American children growing up in high-crime communities where the threat of gun violence affects nearly every aspect of their lives. We won’t spend as much time publicly speculating on the shooting that killed Andrew, given that it happened on the other side of the Anacostia River, which, like it or not, is a political commentary of its own.
Baseball diamonds are part of America’s common ground. So are night clubs, churches, synagogues, mosques; public schools, community centers and movie theaters; parking lots and street corners. What these public sites have in common is gun violence.
Gun violence prevention is a civic responsibility and a spiritual vocation to which countless faith communities and their leaders are dedicated. We refuse to believe that as a nation we are incapable of finding common ground on gun violence prevention. Our prayers for those who suffer are matched by a unified commitment to bring this national tragedy to an end.
The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of Washington
The Rt. Rev. Shannon Johnston, Bishop of Virginia
The Rt. Rev. Susan Goff, Bishop Suffragan, Diocese of Virginia
The Rt. Rev. Ted Gulick, Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Virginia