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After latest in ‘epidemic’ of mass shootings, bishops again call for prayer and action

Police cars block off a crime scene near where a gunman was shot and killed at Cinergy Odessa movie theater (Getty)

Fifty-one people have been killed in the US by mass shootings this month

Several U.S. bishops offered prayers Saturday evening after a gunman killed at least 5 people and injured more than 20 in a Texas shooting spree that included the hijacking of a mail truck and the shooting of several police officers.

“May the Spirit of Peace envelop those families mourning the loss of their loved ones and those directly injured by such cruel acts of violence,” Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, wrote in a statement Saturday.

“Our prayers are with everyone directly impacted by this senseless and horrific act in the Midland/Odessa area. Let us pray for everyone’s safety, especially first responders and those whose heroic actions have saved lives already,” Seitz added.

The Aug. 31 shooting, which took place in Midland and Odessa, Texas, was at least the 18th deadly mass shooting to take place in the U.S. in 2019.

This shooting began when an unidentified man was stopped by police for a traffic violation, and shot at officers as they approached him. After the shooter fled from that scene, he shot at pedestrians and people in cars. Among those shot was reportedly a 17-month-old girl. The shooter, who hijacked a mail truck during his shooting spree, was eventually shot and killed by police outside a movie theater.

Details are still emerging.

51 people have been killed in the U.S. by mass shootings this month, according to the NY Times, including the five killed Aug. 31. Twenty-seven of them were killed in Texas.

While the Saturday shooting spree was still ongoing, Bishop Robert Coerver of Lubbock, Texas, tweeted to request prayer “for our neighbors in the San Angelo Diocese in the midst of an ongoing active shooter situation in the Midland/Odessa region.

Seitz, whose own diocese of El Paso suffered a mass shooting Aug. 3 in which 22 people were killed, offered in his Aug. 31 statement a petition that the Holy Spirit would “illumine our hearts and minds to reverence and respect God’s extraordinary gift of life.”

Other U.S. bishops took to Twitter Saturday to express dismay or call for prayer after the Texas shooting spree. Among them were Beaumont’s Bishop Curtis Guillory and Washington’s Archbishop Wilton Gregory

After a spate of at least 3 deadly mass shootings within one week of each other in late July and early August, the U.S bishops’ conference called for the passage of “responsible gun laws and increased resources for addressing the root causes of violence.” The bishops’ conference has repeatedly made such calls in the aftermath of mass shootings.

In their Aug. 4 statement the U.S. bishops urged President Donald Trump and members of Congress to “set aside political interests and find ways to better protect innocent life.”

That statement also called Catholics to “increased prayer and sacrifice for healing and the end of these shootings,”

“We encourage Catholics to pray and raise their voices for needed changes to our national policy and national culture as well,” the bishops said.

The bishops called mass shootings “an epidemic against life that we must, in justice, face.”

This story is developing and will be updated.