In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, religious leaders offer a word of comfort to those who mourn and hope to those who look for answers.
Pope Benedict XVI spoke through Cardinal Tarcisio Berton, the Vatican Secretary of State. He expressed his deep grief and sent his promise of prayer. “In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy he asks God, our Father, to console all those who mourn and to sustain the entire community with the spiritual strength which triumphs over violence by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love.”
For Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, the news struck close to home. The Colorado-based ministry has dealt with such pain locally following the Columbine High School shootings in 1999 and the Aurora theater shootings of this year. He offered prayers for the victims and their families as well as a link to resources to help families cope.
“This world has a problem. It’s called evil and it’s running loose like a roaring lion devouring the most innocent in our midst,” noted Daly. “Our hearts are breaking… Our spirits are downcast, and we are hungry for hope. What can we do? We must turn to the One True Hope in a hurting world. This One True Hope came into the world in the form of an innocent baby, an infant only a few years younger than many of those killed today. We pray for comfort and peace for the families of those lost. ‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted,’ wrote the psalmist, ‘and saves those who are crushed in spirit’ (Psalm 34:18).”
In Touch Ministry’s Dr. Charles Stanley reiterated the need for prayer and discussed why such atrocities strengthen his faith rather than weakening it. He acknowledges that he has questions but they are tempered by his hope in God’s ultimate victory. “The truth is, evil is dangerous and destructive, and it is no respecter of the innocent among us. But we also know that this tragedy grieves the heart of God very deeply.“
Save the Children provides parents access to tips to help children cope with the emotions generated by this disaster. In addition, the aid organization has opened safe space for Newton children.
Consensus among leaders of faith-based organizations acknowledges the need to wrap those involved in prayer for healing and peace, sends a call for a return to faith and issues a challenge to all to reach out and help those touched by this and other catastrophes. We cannot watch in isolation from a distance if we are to meet Christ’s standards.
“…Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40, King James Version