Bishops express sorrow, condemn
racially motivated shooting in Buffalo

By Rhina Guidos
WASHINGTON – Several U.S. Catholic bishops expressed sorrow and called out racism and gun violence after reports of a May 14 mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, that left at least three injured and 10 dead – a crime authorities categorized as likely motivated by hatred for Black people.

In a separate shooting at a Presbyterian church in Laguna Woods, California, May 15, a gunman killed one person and wounded five. The suspect in that shooting was targeting members of the Taiwanese community, Orange County officials said.

In one of the most powerful statements condemning the violence that took place when a gunman opened fire on a Saturday afternoon at a supermarket in Buffalo, Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, said May 15, “Faith compels us to say no to the rotten forces of racism, no to terror, and no to the mortal silencing of Black and brown voices.”

Bishop Mark E. Brennan of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, also spoke up against what has been categorized not just as violence but one colored with chilling racism. “The tragedy in Buffalo is hardly the first such violence against African Americans,” he wrote shortly after the attack. “From the crossing of the ocean in slave ships, in which many Africans died, to their violent treatment by slave masters to the thousands of lynching of Blacks in the South to more recent killings of unarmed African Americans by police and civilians, even in their churches, this racism has claimed an inordinate number of Black lives simply because they were Black. When and how will it stop?”

Responding to both incidents, Chieko Noguchi, director of public affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the U.S. bishops were calling for an honest dialogue “addressing the persistent evil of racism in our country.”

Mourners in Buffalo, N.Y., react May 15, 2022, while attending a vigil for victims of the shooting the day before at a TOPS supermarket. Authorities say the mass shooting that left 10 people dead was racially motivated. (CNS photo/Brendan McDermid, Reuters)