Pope Francis has expressed his sorrow over a shooting at a private Presbyterian Christian school in Nashville.
A person took the lives of three 9-year-old students and three adult staff members at Covenant School March 27 before being shot in a gunfight with Nashville police.
“Deeply saddened to learn of the recent shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, His Holiness Pope Francis asks you to convey his heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his prayers to all affected by this senseless act of violence,” the pope’s March 29 message said.
The telegram was addressed to Bishop Mark Spalding of Nashville and signed by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
Pope Francis “joins the entire community in mourning the children and adults who died and commends them to the loving embrace of the Lord Jesus,” it continued.
“He likewise invokes the consolation and strength of the Holy Spirit upon the grieving families and prays that they will be confirmed in their faith in the power of the Risen Lord to heal every hurt and to bring good out of unspeakable evil.”
Bishop Spalding held a special Mass at the Cathedral of the Incarnation to pray for and remember the victims on March 27.
Police on Tuesday confirmed the shooter was 28-year-old Audrey Hale, a biological female who identified as transgender and had previously attended Covenant School as a child. Police Chief John Drake said during a news conference that the police do not believe the individual victims had been specifically targeted and that they are still not sure of the exact motive.
When asked whether Covenant School had been targeted for its Christian beliefs or whether there was any significance to the date of the attack, Drake said that is still unclear.
Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.