WASHINGTON (CNS) — The tragic taking of nine lives at a historically black church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, brought an outpouring of solidarity, compassion and sorrow from around the country.
After an all-night search, police June 18 captured a white man who had joined a prayer meeting the previous evening inside at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and then fatally shot nine people, including a senior pastor.
Religious leaders as well as government leaders issued their condolences and condemned the shooting, which is being investigated as a hate crime.
Catholic Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone of Charleston expressed a deep sadness over the tragedy.
“The inside of any church is a sanctuary,” he said in a statement. “When a person enters, he or she has the right to worship, pray and learn in a safe and secure environment. For anyone to murder nine individuals is upsetting, but to kill them inside of a church during a Bible study class is devastating to any faith community.”
Bishop Guglielmone also shared his sympathies with those who lost loved ones in the shooting and prayed they will “feel the comforting presence of our Lord surrounding them during this difficult time.”
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh in the neighboring state of North Carolina, said: “In solidarity with my brother bishop … I ask all the Catholic faithful and people of goodwill in the Diocese of Raleigh to stop at some point today, and offer sincere and thoughtful prayer for the nine victims of this horrific crime and for their families.”

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