Two Canadian Anglican bishops have joined church leaders around the world in condemning the mass shooting early Sunday at a gay nightclub in Orlando, which left 49 people dead and 53 injured.
“I am sure that you all, together with me, are devastated by the senseless act of violence carried out against the LBGT community in Orlando,” said Bishop Michael Oulton, of the diocese of Ontario, in a statement released today.
“We must take a stand with our LGBTQ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer] brothers and sisters,” Bishop Dennis Drainville, of the diocese of Quebec, said in a press release. “Together we must remember the lives of those massacred and commit to say NO to intolerance, hate and injustice wherever we might encounter it.”
The shooting took place in the early hours of Sunday, June 12 at Pulse, a nightclub often frequented by members of Orlando’s LGBTQ community. Florida police have identified Omar Mateen, 29, the New York-born son of Afghan immigrants, as the gunman who opened fire on the crowded dance floor.
As details emerged, many have responded with outrage, sorrow and anger at what has been called the worst mass shooting in American history. Anglican leaders from across the Communion have raised their voices alongside Muslims and other faith communities in decrying the attack.
In response to the violence, vigils have already been held in cities across the world, and Oulton and Drainville both said that their communities would follow suit.
Oulton called on Anglicans to take part in a vigil being held tonight at 8 p.m. at Springer Market Square, in Kingston, Ont. He announced that the Litany of Reconciliation held at noon every Friday at St. George’s Cathedral in Kingston would “centre on the tragedy in Orlando.” He also encouraged parishes and individuals to contribute to an interfaith book of condolences that would be sent to the mayor of Orlando.
Drainville said his diocese would hold a vigil in memory of the Orlando victims this Wednesday, June 15, at the cathedral close in downtown Quebec City at 7 p.m.
In a pastoral letter released at the same time as the press release, Drainville noted that debates over how the Anglican Church of Canada should respond to calls from LGBTQ Anglicans asking for a greater degree of equality, including debates over whether the marriage canon should be changed to allow for same-sex couples to marry, are “in actuality our own attempt finally to bring about justice for the members of the LGBTQ community.
“Although we have come some of the way towards attaining a society where members of the LGBTQ community are valued and publicly supported; there is still much to do,” he said.
Editor’s Note: Police initially said at least 50 people were killed in the shooting, but later revised the death toll to 49.