Episcopal Diocese of Western New York

A Statement from Bishop Franklin on the Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting

Dear People of God in the Diocese of Western New York,

We have news today of another heartbreaking shooting, this one at a synagogue in Pittsburgh where a gunman shouted an anti-Semitic slogan before opening fire. A number of people were killed and others wounded.

We are people who believe that a light shines in the darkness, and that the darkness does not overcome it. But this does not mean that we do not name darkness when we see it, and our country is in a dark time.

Mass shootings and acts of terror, which happen in our country with sickening frequency, outrage and threaten every one of us. But we must be honest with ourselves. Religious minorities, people of color, LGBTQ people, and others who are marginalized live under particular threat, and the realization that they live in such danger exacts an ongoing psychic toll. Today, I ask you to pray for those in our diocese, our community and our country who live under particular threat. I ask you to pray especially for our Jewish friends and the Jewish community here in Western New York who are feeling today’s violence with particular force.

Religious bigotry is by no means unique to the United States. But no other country makes it so easy for a hate-fueled individual to get his hands on weapons such as the AR-15 that was among the arsenal of the gunman at Tree of Life Synagogue today. This is a time to mourn the dead, to pray for and to comfort their survivors and to perform the acts of mercy of which we are capable. But even as we mourn the dead, we must mobilize to work for the common sense reform of the overly permissive gun laws which have such a devastating effect on our country.

Let us be models of love, patience and strength, but let us do our part in spreading light against the darkness.

Yours in Christ,
+R. William Franklin