.- Cardinal Francis George, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has decried the âappallingâ shooting at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. as a âdeplorable act of violence.â On Wednesday an 88-year-old man named James W. von Brunn reportedly opened fire on the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
Security guards returned fire and critically injured von Brunn but not before he fatally wounded 39-year-old security guard Stephen Tyrone Johns.
In 1981 von Brunn was charged with trying to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve Board and was in prison until 1989, the Washington Post reports.
A Holocaust denier, von Brunn authored an essay for an atheist website in which he asserted that Christianity was used to destroy the Roman Empire and the Holocaust was being used to destroy âWestern Civilization.â He accused the Apostle Paul of using a âBig Lieâ technique to create Christianity and insisted this technique was also used to create âthe Holocaust religion.â
âChristianity and the Holocaust are hoaxes,â he claimed in his essay.
In a Thursday statement reacting to the âappallingâ shooting, Cardinal George, who is president of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference, characterized the June 10 incident as a violation of a âhallowed spaceâ in the U.S. capital.
âBy preserving the memory of the six million Jews who died in the Shoah, the Museum speaks to the consciences of all who pass through its doors and hear the powerful stories of the innocent men, women and children who lost their lives at the hands of a criminal regime.â
Cardinal George said that the millions of visitors to the museum learn the dangers of âunchecked hatredâ and learn the need to prevent genocide.
âThis tragic incident only serves to reinforce the need for continued education throughout society against bias of every kind, but most especially racial and religious prejudice,â he said.
âOn behalf of the Catholic Bishops of the United States I offer prayerful condolences to the family of Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns, who died in the line of duty, and to the staff of the Museum who endured this appalling act of violence.â
Reiterating the Catholic bishopsâ commitment to the protection of âthe sacredness of all human lifeâ and the promotion of human dignity and interreligious peace, Cardinal George cited Pope Benedict XVIâs comments at a January 2009 General Audience:
âMay the Shoah be a warning for all against forgetfulness, denial or reductionism, because violence committed against one single human being is violence against all.â