On March 16, a gunman killed eight people - including six Asian women - and injured one person during a series of shootings at three massage parlors in the Atlanta area. The suspect, Robert Aaron Long, 21, had frequented the parlors and had previously been in a rehabilitation program for sex addiction.
The FBI director last week said he did not believe race was a motivating factor in the shootings, and Long has yet to be charged with a hate crime. However, with women of Asian descent making up three-quarters of the shooting victims, the killings sparked conversations about anti-Asian discrimination in the United States - particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bishop Solis noted that the shooting “prompted national dialogue on addressing anti-Asian bias that has taken the form of numerous other acts of physical violence, verbal attacks and destruction of property against those of Asian descent over the last year that have left communities across the country traumatized.”
“I echo Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer’s words that ‘[w]e must support all victims of violence and stand in solidarity with those who are vulnerable in our communities,’” said Solis, referencing a March 17 statement by the Atlanta Archbishop following the shootings.
For Catholics, Lent must be a season of “conversion” to charity, he added.
“More broadly, we must always stress that every human being is a brother or sister in Christ, created in the image and likeness of a loving God,” said Solis, adding that “particularly during this season of Lent, let us remember God’s love and mercy for each one of us and renew the call for conversion of heart, that we may be more united to God’s love and share it with all of our neighbors.”