Photo: Navy Yard workers evacuated after the shooting are reunited with loved ones at a makeshift Red Cross shelter after a shooting Sept. 16 at the naval office building in Washington. (CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)
By Adelaide Mena
Washington (CNA/EWTN News) – Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, prayed for the victims of the Washington Navy Yard shooting, saying victims and their families can find consolation and comfort in the hope given by Christ.
“We pray first of all for all of those who died in the tragedy yesterday at the Navy Yard in southeast Washington,” the cardinal said at a Sept. 17 Mass at Washington’s Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.
“We commend to the hands of our merciful and loving God who alone can judge human hearts, the souls of all who died yesterday.”
He urged consolation for the victims and their families, quoting one of Christ’s beatitudes: “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
“Our consolation is based on hope,” the cardinal taught in his homily. “This hope is a constant awareness of the power of Christ’s resurrection and our destiny to be with him and the souls of the faithful departed in heaven.”
Twelve people were killed by a gunman, and eight were wounded in the Monday shooting spree at the Washington Navy Yard. Three of the survivors, including a police officer, suffered gunshot wounds, the Associated Press reports. Many of the victims were civilian employees and contractors; none were active duty military personnel.
Aaron Alexis, the 34-year-old man whom officials have identified as the gunman,was killed by police. He was a contract employee and former Naval reservist who used a valid pass to access the facility, according to reports. He reportedly had a history of mental problems as well as two previous arrests for gun-related incidents.
Police initially sought information about possible other gunmen, but now believe Alexis acted alone.
The spree’s consequences reverberated throughout the capital. Local schools went on lock down, Ronald Reagan National Airport grounded flights, and Senate officials shut down the Senate side of the Capitol.
Cardinal Wuerl stressed the healing nature of the Mass, both for victims and their loved ones. He said this healing “touches what is wounded and broken in our world.”
“Our prayer for healing is offered as well for whatever it is that fostered such a culture of violence, a culture of death.”
“Only love can conquer violence. Only love supersedes and is victorious, even over death.”
He prayed for “the healing that peacemakers and those who hunger and thirst for justice bring to our world.”
Cardinal Wuerl said that Christians, by virtue of their baptism, must build “a civilization of love” and make manifest in the world “God’s kingdom of peace, truth, justice, kindness, compassion, understanding.”
He said the suddenness of the crime should remind everyone to be spiritually prepared.
“Death came suddenly and in an unexpected manner to those at work at the Navy Yard. It is a reminder to all of us that we know not the day nor the hour of death’s visitation. Jesus calls us always to walk in a way that we can go to meet him when that moment comes.”
Military Archbishop Timothy M. Broglio, who often visited the navy base and celebrated Mass at its chapel, said he was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the shooting.
On Sept. 16 he said Mass on behalf of the shooting victims and their families at the Archdiocese of Washington’s pastoral center. He urged society to restore “respect for life.”