Orthodox hierarchs offer prayers and condolences for Las Vegas victims

At least 59 people were killed and another 527 injured in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history on Sunday night, when 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on an open-air music festival from his room in a nearby hotel. The shooter was found dead when officers broke into his room, where they found a stockpile of 17 guns, reports The Guardian.

President Trump has condemned attack as “an act of pure evil.” “America comes together as one and it always has,” Trump said. “We call upon the bonds that unite us: our faith, our family and our shared values.”

Orthodox hierarchs serving in America have begun offering their condolences and prayers as well, calling upon all the faithful to offer their prayers for the victims and their families.

A statement from His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of All America and Canada (OCA) reads:

On behalf of the hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America, we offer sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. It always brings great sorrow to hear of such senseless killings in the supposedly civilized world. Our hearts ache for the families and friends of the victims and we offer fervent prayers for the repose of the souls of those whose lives were tragically cut short. We pray for the victims and the grieving families and ask that God send down upon them the spirit of peace and consolation. We also offer thanksgiving for the timely and heroic actions of the first responders. Finally we offer our prayers for the city of Las Vegas and all of those who have been effected by these tragic events. We ask that all Orthodox Christians remember the victims and their families in their prayers.

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios (GOARCH) has also offered words of consolation in response to the terrible tragedy. A statement posted on the archdiocesan website reads:

Upon hearing of last night’s unspeakable mass shooting in Las Vegas and the senseless loss of life of innocent people, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, on behalf of all the clergy and faithful of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America expresses with deep sorrow and great pain condolences to the families and friends of the victims.

We, as Orthodox Christians, stand by all our fellow human beings and our fellow citizens as we are called to pray fervently and unceasingly to the God of great love and mercy, for solace and peace to the hearts of those who suffer and repose for those who unjustly and prematurely perished.

A statement from the council of bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the United States of America reads:

We find ourselves this day filled with compassion for the families of the victims who perished in the worst massacre of human life in the history of our nation.  We find within ourselves this day an insatiable desire to pray for those victims, that our Lord will grant them a place of rest where the Light of His Countenance shines upon them as they await the great and final judgment.  And oddly, we find ourselves this day in a state of shock that such a horrific attack can take place once again without any warning, without any obvious reason and without anyone who will really be capable of explaining.  We will hear theory after conjecture, after just plain guesswork on the part of pundit after pundit after pundit.  We will, however, probably never fully comprehend why such a horror as this Las Vegas attack can happen or how man can be so cruel to man.

We stated “oddly” above about finding ourselves in a state of shock.  When we look closely at the history of the world of mankind, not only over the past few decades, but throughout human history, can we discover any extended period of time, beyond a few years perhaps, during which we were not confronted with man’s incredible ability to hurt, dominate, repress or annihilate fellow man?  This would be an overwhelming state of affairs had we never been confronted by God Himself, the God of Love, the God Who was and still is ready to sacrifice Himself for the salvation of humanity.

We need this day, dearly beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, to fall down on our knees before that God of Love.  We must pray fervently that the Lord will “deliver us from all blindness, forgetfulness, despondency and all hardened insensitivity”… Lord, grant us humility, discernment and obedience. Lord, grant us patience, generosity and meekness.  Lord, implant in our hearts the root of goodness and of Your fear… Lord, enable us to love you with all our souls and minds and establish Your will in all…Lord, You know Your creation and as it is Your desire, allow Your will to be done in us, sinners, for You are blessed to the ages.  Amen.” (Evening Prayers)

It is by this common prayer on the part of each and every one of us – each and every day or even more than once a day—that the terrorism of this modern age can be crushed.  Bigger and better weapons of mass destruction, huge numbers of them, have failed to crush it.  The power of faith and trust, however, is beyond and above the power of those man-made weapons.  The God of Love, a God Who will not allow us to completely destroy His Creation or ourselves, can and will respond to our prayers—prayers, which we must not consider to be strictly the domain of Orthodox Christians, but those of all mankind.  Faith and trust in that God, dearly beloved brothers and sisters, will bring His intervention and healing to a suffering world.

In our Lord’s All-Encompassing Love,

+Antony, Metropolitan
+Daniel, Archbishop

Source: Orthochristian.com