Pope lashes out over access to weapons in the United States.
Sunda June 12, the United States witnessed the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in its entire history. The assailant, Omar Mateen, a 29-year old American-born U.S. citizen, armed with a 9mm Glock 17 handgun and an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, entered Pulse, a gay nightclub, and started shooting. He killed a total of 49 people and injured around 53 others before the SWAT team was able to bring him down.
Pope Francis, while addressing a United Nations World Food Program event yesterday, condemned the attack in the strongest words possible. He also lashed out at the total and bold freedom with which arms are circulating all around the world. He said that it is a strange paradox that food and aid are obstructed by barriers including political decisions and biased ideology, however, weaponry is not.
Shortly after the Sunday attack, the Vatican released a statement in which Pope Francis and everyone in the Church expressed their deepest feeling of horror and condemnation over the massacre. The Pontiff denounced the 'senseless hatred' and said that he hopes a way be found at the earliest to identify and correct the causes of such violence in order to attain the peace that the American people and the whole of humanity desires. The statement also said that Pope Francis joins the families of victims in prayer and compassion, and shares their suffering. He entrusts the suffering to the Lord so that they may find comfort.
Mateen had no criminal record in Florida, however, he was once investigated by the FBI over his alleged links to extremism. The case was closed over the lack of evidence. The guns he used were legally purchased two weeks before the shooting, from a gun shop in Port St. Lucie. According to the FBI, Mateen called 911 just before the attack and pledged his allegiance to ISIL. Although ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has claimed responsibility for the attack, investigators have not yet found any formal link between Mateen and the group.
Pope Francis prays for victims of Orlando shooting and their families and all those injured pic.twitter.com/56fABxHJFl
— Mary Shovlain (@maryshovlain) June 12, 2016
Seddique Mateen, the father of Omar Mateen, said that he had no notion about his son's plan. The only significant factor he could point out is his son becoming enraged after seeing two men kissing in public, during a visit to Miami.
Responding to the massacre, president of the U.S. Catholic bishops conference, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, said that the tragedy reminds everyone how precious human life is.
The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, on behalf of the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference, expressed his condolences and offered his prayers for the victims and their families.