In a letter communicated to the Bishop of Plymouth, Bishop Mark O’Toole, from the Secretary of State at the Vatican, Pope Francis has expressed his spiritual closeness to those affected by the shootings in Plymouth and imparts his Blessing to all concerned.
The message has been communicated directly to the bereaved families.
The Right Reverend Mark O’Toole
Bishop of Plymouth
Saddened to learn of last Thursday’s shooting in Plymouth, His Holiness Pope Francis asks you kindly to convey to those affected the assurance of his spiritual closeness. He joins you 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. With prayers that Christ the Redeemer will grant to all the strength to renounce violence and to overcome every evil with good (cf. Rom. 12:21), His Holiness cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State
Six people, including a suspected gunman, died in the shooting on August 12.
Devon and Cornwall Police said three females, two males, and the suspect had died in the Keyham area of the city on Thursday evening.
One of the dead was a child under 10, according to an MP, but the shooting is not terror-related, police confirmed.
The death toll means it is the worst mass shooting in the UK for more than a decade.
At an evening vigil of reflection and prayer held at Plymouth Cathedral on 17 August, special candles were lit for the innocent victims of the shooting. People from different age groups, from across the city, lit six candles representing the five innocent victims and one for the injured and bereaved. The most poignant was that lit by a young three-year-old girl and her mother, for little Sophie Martyn who had been shot alongside her father.
In his homily, Bishop Mark O’Toole, the Bishop of Plymouth indicated that “Darkness does not have the last word”. He said it was important for the city to gather “in silence and in solidarity, to pray for the dead, for the injured, for the loved ones of those who lost their lives, and for all those who have been deeply affected by this tragic event.” The bishop remarked that “our prayer for the innocent is an echo of the cry of Jesus on the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”?
Bishop Mark emphasized that Jesus Christ, “knew from the inside the experience of darkness, of innocent suffering. In his own death on the Cross, Jesus confronted the mystery of evil and has overcome it.” The bishop asked that “something of His life and light may fall upon us” so that “our city rise from this hour of darkness”.