What should Catholics do in response to the Orlando massacre?

The Orlando shootings have already generated a great deal of analysis and commentary (no need for links; just look anywhere). There seems to be confusion about the motivation of the killer. Was he a homophobe? Was this a hate crime? Was this Islamist terrorism? Was it planned or merely inspired by ISIS? Was it perhaps all of these things? Does it underline, once more, the necessity of gun control in America? Why wasn’t the shooter identified as a threat before now, despite having been a “person of interest” to the law enforcement agencies on two separate occasions in the past? Was the shooter, as his ex-wife suggests, bipolar or otherwise mentally disturbed? (Her description of him makes him out to be a nasty person, but there is no evidence that he was diagnosed as mentally ill.)

Most of these questions will be followed up in the next few days and weeks, and it is to be hoped that some answers will emerge. At the same time, it is also to be hoped that some assertions, which seem to be based on wishful thinking, will be dismissed. What can be said at present? What is the immediate reaction of a Catholic to this event? Let me try my best to offer one.

The first Catholic reaction is to see this crime for what it is – murder. Every murder has several core characteristics, which are to be seen here, and which are worth dwelling on.

First of all, murder is something that God’s law clearly condemns. I mean the law given to us in the Ten Commandments, one of which clearly states “Thou shalt do no murder”. Against murder God has set His face. Anyone arguing that murder can be somehow or another justified has to get around this very clear manifestation of the Divine Will. Given the long history of human duplicity, we all constantly need reminding of the Law given on Sinai.

Secondly, murderers, whoever they are, arrogate to themselves the right to decide who lives and who dies. They act as self-appointed judges and executioners. Thus the sin of murder arises from the sin of pride. Who gave Omar Mateen, or any other murderer, the right to take a single human life? No one, either in heaven or on earth. He arrogated this right to himself.

Thirdly, the murderer poses an obviously deadly threat to the people he murders, in this case the 49 innocent victims in Orlando, but he also poses a deadly existential threat to all human beings. If he can murder them, he can murder the rest of us too. Given that he arrogates the law to himself, he overthrows the rule of law, and the law is the one thing that protects us from the anarchy of a society where murder is routine. So, of course this was a homophobic killing, in that the victims were in a gay nightclub, but it was also a killing that threatens everyone else as well.

So, what can we do, as Catholics and people of goodwill, in the aftermath of this shooting? We can contemplate the Law of God, given to us for our good. We can fight against the temptation to fall into the sin of pride. And we can do our best to uphold the rule of law, both secular and religious, as the best safeguard for the happiness and well-being of all.

by Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith



  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Is it murder when Leviticus commands that homosexuals be killed? The hypocrisy of the author is overwhelming. Where do people get the idea that one should kill homosexuals in the first place? This is a product of the Abrahamic religions, all of which command the death of homosexuals. As long as there is an insistence that these Bronze and Iron Age texts are somehow holy or sacred, then those who follow the exact words written within them are – at least in their minds – fully righteous. When it is accepted that these books of myth and legend are not holy and sacred, only then may there be a way forward. Every Abrahamic religionist who maintains the holiness of their texts is complicit in these murders. How could it be otherwise? If it turns out that this man was a self-loathing gay man himself, as may be the case, how could it be denied that the anti-gay rhetoric from Muslims and Christians alike did not contribute to his tortured state of mind?

    1. Eltrion Reply

      The Law of Moses concerning homosexuality bind to those who submit to the law themself. You may compare with the law of circumcission that order to annihilate any men uncircumsized. Are Jewish people become murderer for that reason? No.
      Exodus 30:38 order anyone who make and use perfume to be annihilated. Does the law make Jews mass murderers in the public shops selling perfume? No.
      Exodus 31:14 orders to annihilate anyone who violates the holy sabbath. Does the law make them mass murderers? No.
      Leviticus 23:29 orders to annihilate anyone who don’t fast and pray during Yom Kippur.
      Numbers 9:13 orders to annihilate anyone who fails to keep the passover.
      Numbers 15:30-31 specifically orders to annihilate Jews or foreigners who are intentionally violates the law of God.
      Those laws didn’t make Jews or Christians mass murderers, did they?
      Why? Because they understand the meaning of the law. It binds within, internally, exclusively. Moral laws.
      Jews has Talmud to explain Torah.
      Christians (Catholics) has the Catechisms to explain Bible and the interpretations of the Bible verses.
      Islam has Hadits and their ulamas.
      Murderes has nothing to interpret their motives. They just murder.

      1. Patrick Gannon Reply

        I disagree, Eltrion. Yes there are psychopaths who are mentally disturbed (having been created that way by God?), who “just murder,” but most people have motives. That’s the first thing the authorities look for – the motive. Why did the killer do this? Was it for sex, drugs, money, revenge, hate – why did the killer commit this act? Leaving aside psychopaths, there is almost always a motive. The Abrahamic religions have stoked those motives and influenced people to kill others since they began. You provided a list of examples. These religions cannot absolve themselves from responsibility when they espouse such things as slavery, sexism, racism, homophobia, genocide, capital punishment for ridiculous crimes, and then pretend to be horrified when believers go out and do what the books tell them to do. They have given the believer the motive to perform the act – in this case, the act of mass murder.
        Bible God has no problem with mass murder, so why feign horror? Why talk about the evil of murder? The bible practically commands it in such cases as this. Isn’t it hypocritical of the Church to pretend that it grieves for these victims when a more honest approach would be to say that God killed them? He created them to be born broken and then commanded them to be right, and God knowing they would fail in this, arranged for them to be murdered in order to show off His almighty power so that the rest of us will cower in fear and look to the Church to save us. That’s really the story of the Abrahamic religions in a nutshell – isn’t it? How about if the Church stops being hypocritical about it’s concern for these innocent human beings?
        Answer: The problem is motives. Over the centuries, people have become more civilized and decent. If they don’t play the game – pretend to be concerned – it will motivate decent human beings in civilized societies to tell the Church to take a hike, donations will dry up and the exodus of Catholics will speed up. They can’t tell the truth and at the same time pretend to be decent human beings, so they feign concern and ask to be firefighters in a fire they started and feed regularly with venom and kerosene. It’s so disingenuous. We have to wait for complete information, but in my view, it’s practically certain that the Abrahamic religions helped apply pressure to every single pull of the trigger in Orlando. It will become a battle of gun rights – but this is a problem of the Abrahamic religions.
        Regarding the laws you listed, there are extremist Jewish sects who have committed murders in the name of these and other old laws. Just because they haven’t been mass murders doesn’t mean they weren’t motivated by the religious texts – of course they were. There are many such examples. It happens all the time. What about the rabbi arrested for giving herpes to a bunch of little babies by performing old-style circumcision – after being cut, they suck the foreskin off with their mouth and spit it out? Who could be perverted enough to accept such a thing, particularly in this day and age, as “holy” except religious people?

    2. Ohalehi Reply

      I guess you comment have been answered

  2. Vei Reply

    We should pray like anyone else, that’s what we as Catholics should do.

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      Pray for what? That’s what the US Congress does – they pray when something like this happens and they never actually DO anything about it. Shall we pray that the Catholic Church and other Abrahamic religions drop their hostility to LGBTs so people aren’t motivated to do such horrific things? Shall we pray for them in Hell? Well no, once you’re in hell, you’re there forever and prayers don’t do any good according to my understanding of the catechism. Should we pray that Islam be destroyed, given that the attacker seemed to have Islamist sympathies? Should we pray that God stop creating people with sexual tendencies that the Church disagrees with? Shall we pray that all the guns be collected – but then what’s to stop someone from using a bomb or poison or some other method? Or shall we pray that He bring even greater destruction to the LGBTQ community? Just what is it that we should pray for?
      Bible God seems to have three answers to prayer – yes, no and maybe later, and these answers are given at the same statistical rate as prayers offered up to a milk jug. When someone successfully prays to God to regrow an amputated limb, then let’s talk about prayer. If God can’t heal amputees, how can we expect him to stop violence like this, when His book advocates it? I see no sense in prayer. It solves nothing. The Church needs to stop demonizing LGBTQs and get out of people’s bedrooms.

  3. belle Reply

    let us then pray for the likes of Patrick…

    1. Patrick Gannon Reply

      You do that Belle. It’s your time to waste. Pray that I win a lottery ticket, please…

  4. daohuyha Reply

    Kill anyone is murder, event kill a baby by abortion, This is God’s law, no one can change his law.when a country has a lots of liberty, No Limit, like in USA. Or others, That’s the end of Liberty, and they will be destroy sooner or later by No Limts of LIBERTY or FREEDOM

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