Orlando: Jesuit Network Responds with Prayer & LGBT Community Solidarity


BY ISN STAFFJune 14, 2016

Editor’s Note: Additional notations of statements and campus activities have been added to this post. To request the addition of a Jesuit institutional leader statement please e-mail [email protected].

The news of 49 people violently murdered and as many wounded by a gunman at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida, has challenged our country at its core. Not only are we struggling with the historical reality of this event being the worst mass shooting in our country’s history, the attack also took aim at the LGBT community and their sense of safety and security. In the aftermath, others are being targeted as well, including people of Islamic faith as fear and misunderstanding take hold.

As the nation continues to process what has happened in Orlando, Jesuit institutions and leaders across the country have made their own offerings of prayer, remembrance, and invitations of solidarity.

Lifting Up Victims and Impacted Communities in Word and Prayer

Georgetown University campus ministers representing five different faith traditions offered a joint statement that invited people to respond to the tragedy by choosing “not to see those things that separate us from one another, but to name our continued commitment to our unity in the midst of our diversity that we believe gives us our strength.”

Fr. Brian Lennane, S.J., president of Loyola University Maryland, offered a statement of prayer and solidarity and expressed particular concern for the LGBTQ+ members of the Loyola University Maryland, saying “I am particularly concerned with assuring those in our community who are LGBTQ+ that we stand shoulder to shoulder with them in condemning this crime and advocating for justice.”

Loyola University Chicago Director of Campus Ministry, Lisa Reiter, issued a public letter emphasizing the Catholic Church’s teaching on the inherent dignity of each person and instruction of the Church to “strive to eliminate any forms of injustice, oppression, or violence against” LGBT persons.

In Denver, Colorado, Regis University president Fr. John Fitzgibbons, S.J., issued a public statement in the form of a prayer and noted that campus flags would fly at half-staff to remember those lost.

Fr. Michael Engh, S.J., president of Santa Clara University made a statement contextualized in Santa Clara’s Jesuit mission and its upholding of “inherent value of each and every person,” saying that the university condemns the shooting as a violation of human dignity of both the victims and the entire LGBT community.

Thayne McCollough, Ph.D., the lay president of Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, noted the “impact of this incident upon our Muslim brothers and sisters, who join together with their fellow citizens in denouncing such acts of senseless violence,” in his statement.

In a statement released by Dr. Linda LeMura, Ph.D., president of Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, noted Pope Francis’s words after the November 2015 terrorist attack on Paris, an action he described as an “unspeakable affront to the dignity of the human person…The path of violence and hatred cannot resolve the problems of humanity, and using the name of God to justify this path is blasphemy.”  She offered her support to the entire Le Moyne community as they process the massacre in Orlando. 

Fr. Joseph McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University also emphasized Jesuit mission in his statement, noting that the “entire life and mission” of Fordham “is inspired by the Gospel and its challenge to live in love.”

In a statement published on the Saint Joseph’s University website, president Mark Reed, Ed.D., expressed his desire “to affirm and assure” those who are LGBTQ in the Saint Joseph’s community that Saint Joseph’s University “stands with” them and also noted the availability counseling services for the entire school community.

“When a culture decries and discriminates against individuals within the LGBTQ community, it fuels hate — the kind of hate that can have disastrous results,” said Daniel Myers, Ph.D., provost of Marquette University in an e-mail sent to the Marquette community.

“A Litany of lamentation” offered up during a prayer service on the campus of John Carroll University was shared by Edward Peck, Ph.D., the school’s vice president of mission and identity, in a statement shared with the campus community on June 17. In the statement, Dr. Peck also offered prayers for the victims of the South Carolina mass shooting, as families of victims commemorated the 1-year anniversary.

Santa Clara University was one of many campuses to hold a gathering for prayer. Others who hosted masses or prayer services include Boston College, College of the Holy CrossCreighton UniversityGeorgetown University, John Carroll University, Le Moyne College, Loyola University Maryland, Marquette UniversitySaint Joseph’s University, Saint Louis University, Seattle Universityand Xavier University. Loyola Marymount University’s alumni office is inviting graduates to share prayer intentions for the Orlando massacre online.

Beyond Jesuit Institutions:

On Capitol Hill Fr. Pat Conroy, S.J., Leads Prayer Service

Fr. Pat Conroy, S.J., chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives led House members in a prayer service on June 13. Noting the presence of the House Muslim Staff Association and LGBT Staff Association, Fr. Conroy called for God’s blessing on the nation and noted the “tremendous violence done against populations of people who are identifiable for who they are, whom they love, or what they believe, or what race they belong to.”

Fr. Scott Santarosa, S.J., provincial of the Oregon Province of the Jesuits, shared thoughts on the Orlando shooting in a letter that has been shared widely on social media, including by Fr. James Martin, S.J.  The letter includes the following statement:

“We also stand for love for Muslims.
We stand for love for our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters.
We stand for love for Latinos, Native Americans and all people of color.
We stand for love for the incarcerated
We stand for love. Pure and simple.
What else would Jesus have us do?”

Fr. James Martin, S.J., Calls for Catholic Solidarity with LGBT Community

While not an institutional leader, it is worth noting the strong position that Jesuit author Fr. James Martin, S.J. took in a video statement published on his Facebook page, calling for people everywhere to “not only stand with the people of Orlando but with their LGBT brothers and sisters.” Martin noted that at the time he published the video (late Monday morning) only one Catholic bishop had made a public statement that included an explicit reference to the LGBT community and the targeting of LGBT people in the Orlando attack, citing Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago by name. In later updates to the Facebook post he noted additional statements that were published at various points throughout the day.

Editor’s Note: Additional notations of statements and campus activities have been added to this post. To request the addition of a Jesuit institutional leader statement or Jesuit ministry activity, please e-mail [email protected].

6 replies
  1. Marianne Zelewsky
    Marianne Zelewsky says:

    Many thanks for reminding us that we all belong to the same family. As a member of the Archdiocese of Chicago,
    it is good to know of Archbishop Cupich’s affirmation of the LGBTQ community.


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  2. […] in Catholic higher education have released supportive statements and are offering Masses throughout the week for all those killed in Orlando, noting the LGBT […]

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