Message from the Very Reverend Peter Eaton, Wayne Morse’s grandson
When news first broke early Sunday morning of the senseless slaughter of innocent people at a gay night club in Orlando, none of us could have imagined the full extent of the horror that has since been revealed. Forty-nine lives needlessly taken away and more than fifty wounded by an individual whose motives are not yet clear, but whose actions now seem to indicate a targeted violence toward LGBT persons, many of whom were also Latino. The images of grief, shock, and horror will long remain with us as families and whole communities struggle to grasp the tragedy that has so cruelly disrupted their lives. As people of faith, we mourn with those who have lost loved ones, and commit ourselves to seek opportunities to overcome the evil and hatred that perpetuated such a tragedy.
At this time the Bishop, clergy, and people of the Diocese of Southeast Florida “weep with those who weep, and mourn with those who mourn” in our sister Diocese of Central Florida. We hold in our prayers the dead, those whose lives hang in the balance still, those recovering from their injuries, their families, friends and communities, as we do the first responders, medical staff, and law enforcement agencies now working to provide answers to our questions. United in grief, bound together in love and compassion, and strengthened in resolve, we stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers, particularly those in the LGBT community, who continue to be confronted by violence, prejudice, and bigotry. We also acknowledge the pain and pressure with which our faithful Muslim fellow citizens live and who also condemn this and all acts of violence carried out in the name of their ancient and venerable Abrahamic tradition.
We remain firm in our conviction that God’s eternal love embraces all people. It is this Divine love which cherishes us in loss and pain, sustains us in grief, and will not let us be overwhelmed in the face of evil. Confident in our faith in the living God, we are emboldened to continue to pray and work together for a more just society in which we uphold and respect the dignity of all persons, in which no one shall have cause to live in fear, and in which violence shall be no more.
Peter Eaton is bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida and a member of the Wayne Morse Center Advisory Board.