Letter from the Bishop

Originally emailed 12.20.12

To the People of the Diocese of New York

On Friday our neighboring Diocese of Connecticut was rocked by the horrific eruption of violence in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. A number of small children and devoted teachers too large to comprehend has been killed. Once again, as too often, we weep in empathy for the pain and loss of others, in whose sorrows we can also see reflected our own lives and loves and fears, and the common humanity that binds us to one another in all times, but especially in tragedy.

This Sunday at our altars we were one in prayer for the fallen and for those who love them. We prayed for the Diocese of Connecticut and their bishops, clergy and people who minister to the broken and bereaved.  In the diverse and varied words of prayer we offer, we lay our sorrow, as well as our fears, before the heart of our loving, grieving God. This is what we do. First of all things, we are people who pray.

Over and over, we watch the horror, the pain and the grief laid upon the shoulders of people like us in communities like our own, who must then bear that horror and carry that pain as they pick up their lives and find a way to go on.  As in far too many other places in America, Newtown will never be the same. The events of Friday will cast a shadow into the future which will darken much that is yet to come. And for the families of the lost, especially the young lost children, these losses will temper every happiness and cloud every joy for a long time. We pray God’s blessing, we ask God’s grace, we invoke God’s peace for every troubled heart.

But this was the second mass shooting in America in three days. It was the thirteenth in 2012. We your bishops believe that it is past time for the United States to commit itself anew to the creation of responsible, constitutional measures of reasonable and effective gun control. We call on our elected representatives to engage the debate, resolve the question, and come to terms finally with the place and power of arms and weapons in our laws and in our common life. That we may by the grace of God and the courage of good national leaders live in peace and without fear in safe towns and cities, in safe schools, in safe movie theaters and shopping centers.

Our Christian life calls us to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Our faith also calls us to be strivers after justice and peace. We don’t know what justice will look like for those who fell on Friday in Newtown, some only six years old, but we must consider what justice demands of us now, before any others of our own brothers and sisters find themselves next week or next month in another wrong place at another wrong time.

+ Mark

The Rt. Rev. Mark S. Sisk

Bishop of New York

 + Andrew

The Rt. Rev. Andrew M. L. Dietsche

Bishop Coadjutor

 + Andrew

The Rt. Rev. Andrew D. Smith

Assistant Bishop

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