Today, we offer our prayers and profound sympathy for all those involved in the shooting at Arapahoe High School. I am saddened by this tragedy, which has been repeated too often in recent memory. My heart goes out to the victims and their families, and my prayers, as well as those of the faithful in the Archdiocese of Denver, are with them.
According to police reports, a gunman walked into Arapahoe High School in Littleton today with the intention of killing a specific teacher. Instead, he wounded two students and reportedly killed himself. One of the two students is now in serious condition, while the other is being treated for minor injuries.
This shooting takes place on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newton, Conn., and just a few miles from Columbine High School, where in 1999 the world witnessed one of the deadliest school shootings in the history of our country that left 13 dead. Last July, we marked the one-year anniversary of the Century Movie Theater shooting in Aurora that left 12 dead.
The pictures of hundreds of students flooding out of the school—with panic on their faces and hands up so that the police officers could search them—are troubling. As is the information that the suspected shooter was dressed in tactical gear as he entered the school, carrying a gun without making any attempt to hide it, and asking for the whereabouts of a particular teacher by name.
Fortunately for the students of Arapahoe High School, first responders, school teachers and administrators were able to react with effective lockdown procedures. Area Catholic schools also followed appropriate security protocols. All Souls, St. Thomas More, St. Therese, St. Pius, St. Mary’s Littleton, Our Lady of Loreto, St. Louis (Englewood), and Bishop Machebeuf High School all took lockdown measures.
Unfortunately for all of us, however, we are once again confronted with the effects of a culture that has little respect for life and is desperately in need of the healing that only God can give.
As we prepare our hearts for the birth of Christ, let us keep our youth in our prayers. In these last weeks of Advent, let us pray that as a culture we find the path to peace, which begins with accepting God’s mercy and forgiveness.