I am sickened and shaken by the recent massacre in Orlando. I’m especially sickened that we allow our citizens to purchase assault rifles.

A priest friend sent the below along yesterday.


Today I write with a heavy heart arising from the tragedy which occurred in the early morning hours yesterday at a Gay, Lesbian, Transgender night club in Orlando, our neighbor to the east. Yesterday, the best I could muster was to send these words by text message to my brother, Bishop John Noonan, bishop of Orlando: “John, I am so sorry. With love to and for all.” Today with a new dawn, I once again have some thoughts which I wish to share.

Our founding parents had no knowledge of assault rifles which are intended to be weapons of mass destruction. In crafting the second amendment to the Constitution which I affirm, they thought only of the most awkward of pistols and heavy shotguns. I suspect they are turning in their graves if they can but glimpse at what their words now protect. It is long past time to ban the sale of all assault weapons whose use should be available only to the armed forces. If one is truly pro-life, then embrace this issue also and work for the elimination of sales to those who would turn them on innocents.

Second, sadly it is religion, including our own, which targets, mostly verbally, and also often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people. Attacks today on LGBT men and women often plant the seed of contempt, then hatred, which can ultimately lead to violence. Those women and men who were mowed down early yesterday morning were all made in the image and likeness of God. We teach that. We should believe that. We must stand for that. Without yet knowing who perpetrated the PULSE mass murders, when I saw the Imam come forward at a press conference yesterday morning, I knew that somewhere in the story there would be a search to find religious roots. While deranged people do senseless things, all of us observe, judge and act from some kind of religious background. Singling out people for victimization because of their religion, their sexual orientation, their nationality must be offensive to God’s ears. It has to stop also.

Third, responding by barring people of Muslim only faith from entering the country solely because of their stated faith until they can be checked out is un-American, even in these most challenging of times and situations. There are as many good, peace loving and God fearing Muslims to be found as Catholics or Methodists or Mormons or Seventh Day Adventists. The devil and devilish intent escape no religious iteration.

Will we ever learn? I hope so but until the above three points are taken seriously by society, sadly, tragically, we can expect more Orlandos. May the souls of those faithful departed who met their God early Sunday morning rest in peace, and those recovering from deep wounds heal, help and hope.

+ Bishop Robert Lynch, St. Petersburg


  1. Could it be elderflower (Sambucus nigra L.)?

    1. No not elderflower – I know it but the name escapes me – probably wake at 3.00am tomorrow and remember :-/

  2. Guns are outlawed in the United Kingdom but now they are trying to outlaw "pointy knives", too.

  3. Japanese Lilac, I believe !

  4. Hmmm, elderflower seems close if not right on the nose. There were two trees, maybe 12 feet tall. Kind of plume-like, the flowers, as you can see. On the campus of Smith College in Northampton, Mass. Now I'm on the coast of NH–my 78-year-old cousin Dickie clipped me a gorgeous bunch of peonies from his garden…

  5. Though I've now had a second vote for Japanese lilac…

  6. Anonymous says: Reply

    The rifle used in the Orlando attack is not classified as an assault rifle. An assault rifle is one that fires multiple rounds with a single trigger pull.

  7. Arrowwood Virburnum [Viburnum dentatum].

  8. I was thinking it might be a redtwig dogwood- I just planted one recently. Let us know if you find out 🙂

    I agree about the ban on assault rifles- it's insane that they are legal- insane!

    1. Insane, amoral and in profound theological/existential error. That arms enthusiasts would prefer to arm terrorists rather than cede their 2nd amendment "rights" is a terrible victory of fear over love–whereas the Resurrection is the victory of love over fear…Thanks, Alice Carey…

  9. If it is a red twig dogwood- they are super cool natives that get bright red in winter. They look beautiful when it snows!

  10. Sometimes it's not about us despite our obvious solipsism. Sometimes it's about the terrorists. The takeaway for me is how fearful freedom can be due to fear that some will abuse that freedom. I say let's all agree to ban guns after we've successfully banned heroin. Conservatives will be happy because it will never happen and liberals will be happy because they have a putative way forward.

  11. Thanks so much for the plant ID, folks! Praising the flowers is probably the most powerful possible antidote to violence of all kinds…

  12. I will remain pro-choice for as long as conservatives continue denying [or challenging the access to] food assistance, financial assistance, public housing, psychiatric care, health care, substance abuse treatment, and other critical services to the very people they insist be brought into the world. To be crass: we are better off killing unborn babies than birthing them into a world where they are refused services critical to a healthy and meaningful life.


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