Milwaukee bishops urge prayers, reflection on violence after killings
The killing of six Sikhs Aug. 5 at their temple in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek brought an outpouring of spiritual support from leaders in the Catholic community, as well as a call for the entire community to examine violence in U.S. culture.
Assuring the Sikh community “that our prayers go out in solidarity with you,” Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki said Aug. 6, “There’s an aspect of we want to do something to help ease the pain of that community; one of the things that immediately comes to mind is prayer so we turn our hearts and attention to God.
“We pray for God’s consoling and healing to be there for the Sikh community,” he said.
In an interview with the Catholic Herald, the publication serving the Catholic community in southeastern Wisconsin, Archbishop Listecki said he had just returned from St. Lawrence Parish in St. Lawrence, Wis., where he had celebrated Mass, led a eucharistic procession and enjoyed a picnic dinner with parishioners as part of their annual feast day commemoration when he heard the news.
“I was totally taken aback. I was totally shocked that anyone would come in and do such an act of violence, but also to do it within the context of church, temple, synagogue, mosque,” he said. “Here are people coming together to worship God, and what happens? They’re confronted by evil. This tells us that we have to be mindful of evil in the world.”
According to police, the shooter entered the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin during a religious service and shot into the gathering using an automatic weapon.
He killed four people inside the temple and two more outside, then he wounded a police officer. A second officer shot and killed the gunman, who was later identified as 40-year-old Wade Michael Page.
Archbishop Listecki said people should expect to be safe in places where they worship.
“There’s no threat from people of faith, but there is the threat from those who suddenly would want to invade that sanctuary,” he said. “That’s what I felt — that a sanctuary had been invaded.” [More]