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Catholic Voice
  June 27, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 12   •   Oakland, CA
Bishop's Column

On Orlando, the Muslim community and the Pan-Orthodox Council

Most Rev.
Michael C. Barber, SJ

As you all are aware there was a tragic and violent shooting of innocent people in Orlando, Florida, at a gay nightclub.

On behalf of the Diocese of Oakland I condemn this senseless, wicked and despicable act. We extend our condolences to the families and friends of those who mourn the loss of their loved ones.

When I heard the news, I did the most spiritually powerful thing I could do as a Christian and as a priest, I offered Mass for the repose of their souls. No one should be targeted for violence and death because of their race, creed or sexual identity. We are all children of God.

I know the LGBT community feels especially vulnerable and wounded because of this horrific act. We join in prayer to God for healing of the wounded, salvation for those killed, comfort for those afflicted with grief and for an end to gun violence in our country.

There is no reason to blame all the members of the Muslim faith for the act of one killer, just as it is wrong to blame all Catholics for the murders committed by the IRA in Northern Ireland.

In order to give witness to the desire for peace from the religions of the "Children of Abraham," we as a diocese are planning a joint Interfaith Prayer Event on our Cathedral Plaza on Sept. 6, at which representatives of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths will come together.

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This will be a 30-year commemoration of the Interfaith Prayer Vigil in Assisi hosted by Pope St. John Paul II in 1986. We will be publishing more details as the plans firm up, but I wanted you to know there is something positive you and I can do to promote peace: by coming together to pray, and give common witness to our desire for peace. Stay tuned.

Last week I attended the U.S. Bishops' national summer meeting. Every three years the summer meeting is a retreat. Thank God, as we shouldn't always just come together for business, but for prayer.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila gave our conferences, on the theme of "The Bishop as Missionary Teacher with the Holy Family."

While we were there we did do one item of business, and voted to send a letter of support to the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew II of Constantinople. We expressed our prayers and best wishes for behalf of all the Orthodox Churches gathered in Greece for the first "Holy and Great Council" to take place in centuries.

In our letter we echoed the resolve of Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew when they met together recently. In their common declaration they stated: "We firmly and wholeheartedly resolve to intensify our efforts to promote the full unity of all Christians." We are praying for unity among the Orthodox — so that hopefully, some day, the Orthodox and Catholic Churches may find unity. That was the express wish of the last four popes . . . and the bishops of Oakland.

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