Bishop tells of horror at Orlando massacre

Bishop of Portsmouth the Rt Rev Christopher Foster
Bishop of Portsmouth the Rt Rev Christopher Foster

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The Church of England Bishop of Portsmouth has expressed his horror that members of the gay community were targeted in the Orlando massacre.

The Rt Rev Christopher Foster has offered his prayers for those mourning the death of loved ones in the shootings at the Pulse nightclub.

A total of 49 people died after a gunman opened fire in the packed nightclub early on Sunday.

He said churches around the diocese will be praying for the families and friends of those who died at services during this week and on Sunday.

Bishop Christopher said: ‘I’m appalled by the horror of the shootings in Orlando and offer sympathy and our prayers to those mourning the death of loved ones and to those injured and maimed.

‘Our first response is rightly compassion and care.

‘But this is followed too by outrage at the horror and hate which marks this violence against LGBTI people at Pulse nightclub.

‘There can be no justification for any action like this and the brutal targeting of this ghastly attack on LGBTI people demands our Christian solidarity and love for them.’

His comments come after a joint statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Archbishop of York John Sentamu.

They said: ‘After Sunday’s attack in Orlando, as Christians we must speak out in support of LGBTI people, who have become the latest group to be so brutally targeted by the forces of evil.

‘We must pray, weep with those affected, support the bereaved, and love without qualification.

‘The obligation to object to these acts of persecution, and to support those LGBTI people who are wickedly and cruelly killed and wounded, bereaved and traumatised, whether in Orlando or elsewhere, is an absolute call on our Christian discipleship. It arises from the unshakeable certainty of the gracious love of God for every human being.

‘Now, in this time of heartbreak and grief, is a time for solidarity. May God our Father give grace and comfort to all who mourn, and divine compassion to us all.’