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There is much we don't about Omar Mateen, the man who carried out the Orlando massacre. We don't know, and we may never know, what his exact motives were. But we do know that he very deliberately chose to massacre LGBTQ people, and that people everywhere are looking for ways to prevent what took place in Orlando from happening again.


Among those people is Robert Lynch, the Catholic bishop of St. Petersburg, Florida. In an essay published Monday, first on his personal blog and later in the Washington Post, Lynch laid bare some of the anguish he felt in the aftermath of this attack. While politicians often offer "thoughts and prayers" instead of real change for their communities, Bishop Lynch—for whom "thoughts and prayers" would seem a natural response—offered something more: A call to action.

"Today I write with a heavy heart," he began, "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."


Lynch went on to urge the banning of assault weapons. But the following passage was the true surprise of the piece:

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.


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.

Lynch also had a not-so-subtle rebuttal to Donald Trump's call to bar Muslim immigration to the United States, calling it "un-American." no matter the political and emotional maelstrom we may find ourselves in.

"There are as many good, peace loving and God fearing Muslims to be found as Catholics or Methodists or Mormons or Seventh Day Adventists," he writes. "The devil and devilish intent escape no religious iteration."


Without discounting the potentially unknowable psychological factors that go into an act of such malevolence, Bishop Lynch—himself a representative of an institution which has struggled with the issue of LGBTQ rights—acknowledged the profound impact that religion can have on influencing the way we see the world, for better, and tragically, for worse. At a day when other religious figures were praising Mateen for his choice of target, his words resonated even more powerfully.

You can find all of Fusion's coverage of the Orlando shootings here.

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