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After shooting, cardinal urges unity to ‘build path to safety and peace’

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CHICAGO (CNS) — Saying he watched “in horror” news reports in the aftermath of a mass shooting during a suburban Fourth of July parade, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago offered prayers for the victims.

People in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Ill., visit the site of a July 4, 2022, mass shooting that took place during the city’s parade for Independence Day. (CNS photo/Cheney Orr, Reuters)

Authorities said seven people died – five on the parade route and two later in the hospital – and 30 others were injured when a gunman opened fired on people lining the parade route.

“What should have been a peaceful celebration of our nation’s founding ended in unspeakable tragedy,” Cardinal Cupich said in a statement released hours after the tragedy by the archdiocese of Chicago.

Pointing to the victims, who authorities said ranged in age from 8 to 85, Cardinal Cupich said, “Weapons designed to rapidly destroy human bodies have no place in civil society.”

Law enforcement authorities charged Robert E. Crimo III, 21, of suburban Chicago with seven counts of murder after the shooting in Highland Park in Chicago’s affluent North Shore.

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said the suspect would receive a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole if convicted of the charges. He also said other charges were pending.

The man was apprehended without incident on a busy highway in a nearby suburb after briefly fleeing officers.

Highland Park police said witnesses reported seeing a man with a long gun indiscriminately firing dozens of rounds from a rooftop at parade spectators, sending marchers and viewers scurrying for cover.

Five adults were reported dead along the parade route. Highland Park Fire Chief Joe Schrage said emergency workers transported 23 people to hospitals, while others walked into emergency rooms.

“Please join me in praying for the victims and their loved ones, who never imagined a July 4 celebration could become a killing ground,” Cardinal Cupich said.

“May the Lord of mercy embrace in love those who have died, bring healing to the wounded, comfort to their loved ones and courage to all of us, so that we may respond to the tragedy united as God’s children to build a path to safety and peace,” he added.

In a telegram to Cardinal Cupich, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said that Pope Francis was “deeply saddened to learn of the senseless shooting that took place in Highland Park and he asks you to convey his spiritual closeness to all affected by this attack.”

The diplomatic message also noted that the pope was praying for the dead and “healing and consolation to the injured and bereaved.”

“With unwavering faith that the grace of God is able to convert even the hardest of hearts, making it possible to ‘depart from evil and do good,’ Pope Francis prays that every member of society will reject violence in all of its forms and respect life in all of its stages,” Cardinal Parolin’s message said.

Reaction to the violent event included statements from the Philadelphia and San Antonio archbishops.

Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez called for steps to end violence in society following the Illinois incident and the shooting of two Philadelphia police officers during a concert and the city’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display.

“Civic celebrations like the commemoration of our country’s birth are meant to unify our richly diverse populace. They prompt us to reflect on the lofty goal of preserving and protecting freedom, dignity, equality and opportunity for all of our brothers and sisters,” Archbishop Pérez said in a statement early July 5.

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