Pope Francis sends ‘blessings of strength and peace’ after shooting in Maine

Pope Francis Pope Francis invoke the Virgin Mary as the Queen of Peace and Mother of Mercy at a prayer vigil for peace in St. Peter's Basilica, Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. | Credit: Courtney Mares

Pope Francis said Saturday he is praying for strength and peace for the community of Lewiston, Maine, after the city experienced two deadly mass shootings earlier this week.

The Wednesday shootings at a restaurant and a bowling alley in Maine’s second most populous city, in the southern part of the state, left 18 people dead and 13 people injured.

The victims ranged in age from 14 to 76, according to officials, who released the names and photographs of victims on Friday.

The man suspected of the shooting, 40-year-old Robert Card, was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound on Friday evening after a dayslong manhunt, the New York Times reported.

Pope Francis “was deeply saddened to learn of the terrible loss of life resulting from the mass shooting in Lewiston, and he expresses his spiritual closeness to all those suffering from this unspeakable tragedy, especially the families who lost loved ones,” said an Oct. 28 telegram signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

“With first trust that aided by God’s grace we can overcome evil with good (cf Rom 12:21),” it continued, “the Holy Father invokes upon the people of Lewiston and indeed the entire country, almighty God’s blessings of strength and peace.”

The message said the pope is praying for the recovery of the wounded, for the medical personnel caring for them, and for the souls of the dead.

“He likewise commends the noble efforts of first responders who put themselves in harm’s way to protect the community.”

Lewiston police said on Facebook late on Wednesday that the shootings occurred at local establishments Schemengees Bar and Sparetime Recreation.

In a statement posted to Facebook, Portland Bishop Robert Deeley said it was “heartbreaking to hear of lives lost and dozens injured and to know of the pain and grief that so many families are experiencing.”

“We pray for all those impacted by this terrible violence, that the Lord may provide them with consolation in the midst of their sorrow,” Deeley said. “In this moment of trial and uncertainty, let us raise up our prayers, asking God to give strength to them and to our community now and in the coming days, and we ask him to protect our law enforcement officers as they seek to prevent further harm.”

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