Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Once again we find ourselves grieving as a nation for victims of mass shootings. The sad frequency of these incidents doesn’t diminish the shock we feel in the face of such brutality. As people of faith, we pray for all those killed in the last 10 days in Ohio, Texas and California, and we mourn with those who now bear the sorrow of losing loved ones to such senseless violence.
Our prayers are acts of solidarity with those impacted by the shootings. Prayer also gives us an opportunity to reflect, listen and discern how God may be trying to move our hearts. Prayer in the wake of tragedy can help spur us to take actions that bring healing, renewal and reform to our society.
After much prayer, I have come to believe there is no single cause for the proliferation of mass shootings, and there are no simple solutions. We must be committed and courageous on several fronts if we hope to diminish the level of violence in our society.
These efforts should include comprehensive background checks and further limiting access to military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines; devoting more resources to mental health services for those at risk of committing violent behavior; calling out racism and other attitudes that dehumanize and make violence easier to perpetrate; and abstaining from the extreme violence that is so prevalent in much of the media we consume which, I fear, numbs our moral consciousness.
We also must elevate our national discourse, including on social media. As a user of Twitter, I’m appalled at the meanness and demeaning language I often see when it comes to politics and religion. Words turned into weapons also do lasting damage. It is possible to vigorously debate ideas while remaining civil in our conversations.
So, please keep praying. Pray for healing. Pray for wisdom about how best to reduce violence in our society. And then please be a part of the solution by taking actions that will make our communities safer for everyone.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Donald J. Kettler
Bishop of St. Cloud