SACRAMENTO – Bishop Jaime Soto, president of the California Catholic Conference and head of the Diocese of Sacramento, issued the following statement on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of California in light of the wave of terrorism and gun violence affecting the state and the fear and anxiety poisoning public discourse:
“The violent rage unleashed against a holiday gathering at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino tears at our hearts. Men and women dedicated to serving vulnerable members of their community became vulnerable themselves to a violent hostility fueled by hatred as well as lethal weapons too readily available.
“We mourn those who lost their lives. We grieve with their families, friends and community that must now carry the loss for the rest of their lives. We express our heartfelt gratitude to the first responders and other members of the community that have reached out with heroic compassion and selfless professionalism.
“No reason, no religion can conscience the savage acts of gun violence that continue to plague our nation. This dark demented storm has now struck the people of San Bernardino but we all live under its heavy cloud.
“It is alarming that any neighbor of ours would let themselves become possessed by ruthless ideologies and inflammatory rhetoric, bred here or imported from abroad. The fury wrought in a Carolina Church, an abortion center in Colorado, a college in Oregon, and now a center for the disabled in San Bernardino rip at the social fabric and poison our public discourse. In the face of such threats to the common good, Pope Francis calls us to a ‘fearless dialogue’ in the public square. Religious communities, especially, have a moral duty to bring the divine wisdom and charity of their traditions to civic conversations in order to reignite hope and restore a reverent recognition that we are all the children of a merciful God.
“Good reason and religious grace are the resources from which we must all draw true human strength and courage. In the face of repeated surges of inhumanity in our land, all those who looked to a merciful God must be messengers of God's indomitable wisdom and missionaries of His almighty mercy.
“The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has opened the Holy Door of Mercy, not only for Catholics but for Christians, Muslim, Jews, and all people of faith. We are beckoned by God to the threshold of His mercy. He is the one who sends us to spread this awesome mercy by holding the hands and wiping the tears of those ravaged and worried by the demented perpetrators of a violent culture. He has given us the light of His truth in order to dispel the harsh gloom of dubious stereotypes or vicious prejudices. In these days of December let us bravely hold up that light to one another and see clearly the face of our brothers and sisters.”