The bishops of the two Episcopal dioceses in Massachusetts have issued the following statement, following a gunman's attack earlier in the day on the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue.
Dear People of the Episcopal Churches in Massachusetts,
A ceremony celebrating new life has become the latest setting for the murderous intersection of bigotry, religious hatred and easy access to lethal weapons.
We extend our deepest condolences, solidarity and kinship to our sisters and brothers at the Tree of Life synagogue and to the wider Jewish community throughout the nation upon the massacre today in Pittsburgh.
We join with Bishop Dorsey McConnell of Pittsburgh, who writes, "Human beings have moral agency. Someone chose to hate, and chose to kill. And now we are faced with a choice as well--to do nothing, or to reject this hatred in the strongest possible words and actions, and to refute in every way, in every forum, the philosophical foundations of anti-Semitism wherever they have gained a foothold in our churches and our society."
As people of faith, we also decry suggestions that the solution to such violence is further violence. For national leaders to suggest that the solution is for our houses of worship (and by extension our schools, our movie theaters, our shopping centers and our outdoor concert venues) to be armed fortresses is to abdicate responsibility for addressing the root causes of this scourge.
We continue to insist that our grief and anger must issue not only in compassion and prayer, not only in increased vigilance and security, but also in continued advocacy for measures which will resist the religious and ethnic bigotry and easy access to lethal weapons which are among those root causes.
May we invoke the compassionate blessing of our God upon the victims of this act of terror and their loved ones, while rededicating ourselves once more to acting as agents of change for a more peaceful and just society.
The Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Gayle E. Harris, Bishop Suffragan, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
A Litany in the Aftermath of Gun Violence, penned by our colleague Bishop Stephen Lane of Maine, is available here.
Additional resources for congregational prayers are available on the website of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, here.