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Pope Francis offers condolences for Monterey Park shooting

Pope Francis offers condolences for Monterey Park shooting

A woman takes a closer look at the names of 11 people killed in a mass shooting written on crosses and displayed during a candlelight vigil in front of the City Hall in Monterey Park, California, on Jan. 24, 2023. / Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Rome Newsroom, Jan 25, 2023 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis has offered his condolences after 11 people were killed in a shooting at a Los Angeles dance hall, one of two deadly mass shootings in California this week.

The pope sent a condolence telegram to Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles on Jan. 25 expressing his sadness and assuring his spiritual closeness to “those affected by this tragedy.”

A gunman opened fire at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California, on Saturday night amid celebrations of the Lunar New Year. It was the worst massacre in Los Angeles county history, according to the Associated Press.

The LA County Coroner Medical Examiner’s Office identified the victims on Tuesday as Xiujuan Yu, 57; Hongying Jian, 62; Lilian Li, 63; Mymy Nhan, 65; Muoi Dai Ung, 67; Diana Man Ling Tom, 70; Wen-Tau Yu, 64; Valentino Marcos Alvero, 68; Ming Wei Ma, 72; Yu-Lun Kao, 72; and Chia Ling Yau, 76.

“His Holiness joins the entire community in commending the souls of those who died to almighty God’s loving mercy and he implores the divine gifts of healing and consolation upon the injured and bereaved,” the papal telegram said.

Sent on the pope’s behalf by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, it said: “As a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord, the Holy Father sends his blessing.”

Two days after the shooting in Monterey Park, seven people were killed in a mass shooting in northern California’s Half Moon Bay, which authorities suspect was a workplace grievance at a mushroom farm.

In an interview following the back-to-back shootings, Pope Francis was asked about the large number of weapons in the U.S. and the frequency of mass shootings.

“I say when you have to defend yourself, all that’s left is to have the elements to defend yourself. Another thing is how that need to defend oneself lengthens, lengthens, and becomes a habit,” the pope told AP in an interview published on Jan. 25.

“Instead of making the effort to help us live, we make the effort to help us kill,” he added.

Catholic bishops in California have also responded to the shootings. Archbishop Gomez offered prayers for the victims and their loved ones and asked God to “grant wisdom and prudence to law enforcement and public officials working to make sense of the violence and keep our communities safe.”

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said: “The recent shootings in Monterey Park and now in Half Moon Bay remind us of how fragile human life is, but also how precious human life is.”

“We must never take human life for granted. We must never take out our aggressions and our frustrations on others, especially in any form of violence.”

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