Blog Post

Church Prays for Peace in Wake of Arlington Shooting

steve scaliseIn the wake of yesterday’s shooting, which nearly took the life of pro-life Catholic lawmaker Steve Scalise (R-LA), bishops are leading the faithful around the country to pray for peace.

CNA/EWTN News is reporting on the shooting that left the 51 year old Scalese, who serves as House Majority Whip, with a bullet wound in his hip that required emergency surgery. He is reportedly in critical condition.

“Prior to entering surgery, the Whip was in good spirits and spoke to his wife by phone,” Scalise’s office said in a statement. “He is grateful for the brave actions of U.S. Capitol Police, first responders, and colleagues.”

Two Capitol police officers and one Congressional staffer were also injured in the incident which occurred just after 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning at a Congressional baseball practice at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Virginia.

A former home inspector from Illinois names James T. Hodgkinson, 66, opened fire on the field from behind a fence, and then advanced onto the field. Scalese, who was on second-base at the time, was shot and lay wounded during what became a 10 minute shooting spree.

Thankfully, a member of Scalese’s security detail had a weapon and opened fire on the gunman which gave lawmakers a chance to scramble for cover. Capitol police arrived on the scene and engaged in a shoot-out with Hodgkinson, mortally wounding him. He died at a hospital a short time later.

US Capitol Police officers, identified as Krystal Griner and David Bailey, were wounded as they exchanged fire with the gunman and are both said to be in “good condition.” A fifth person, a Tyson Foods employee named Matt Mika was also shot. His condition is not yet known.

James T. Hodgkinson James T. Hodgkinson

Word of the shooting sparked prayer across the country with Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, Rep. Scalese’s diocese, making a special plea for the family.

“This morning I am saddened by this act of violence. Our prayers are with Congressman Scalise, for his healing, his wife Jennifer and their children, and for all involved in this shooting incident,” the Archbishop said in a statement.

Mark Milano, principal of Archbishop Rummel High School in Louisiana where Rep. Scalese attended school and is still very active, also weighed in:

"Our hearts and prayers are with him and his family and all who were involved in this tragic incident. The Archbishop Rummel community pledges its prayers and support for the Scalise family as they move forward through recovery."

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also took a moment before opening its Spring General Assembly this morning in Indianapolis to pray for the victims of the shooting, as well as for those who lost their lives in a massive apartment fire in London earlier this week.

“As we convene this morning, we are reminded of how much the world needs God’s love and healing,” said USCCB Vice President Archbishop Jose Gomez. “The senseless shooting in Virginia that injured a member of Congress along with, at least, four others, the terrible apartment fire in London, and the daily suffering of the world’s poor and vulnerable that doesn’t make headlines call us to prayer.”

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, head of the diocese of Arlington, Virginia released the following statement:

"I am profoundly saddened by the tragic shooting at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria earlier this morning. Today I call on the faithful in the Diocese of Arlington and all people of good will to join me in prayer for Rep. Steve Scalise and the others who were wounded in this senseless attack. May the Lord grant them swift healing and consolation. As we pray for God’s mercy, we also ask Mary, our Mother, to intercede for us, so that our world will know the peace of her Son."

"Today as the Church invites us to begin a novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I ask Catholics of our diocese to pray the novena with a specific intention for peace," he concluded.

Scalese, a life-long Catholic, is married with two children and has championed traditional marriage, the sanctity of life and religious liberty during his political career.

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