Pastoral response to Nova Scotia shooting

Posted on April 20, 2020

Dear Friends in Christ:

As COVID-19 continues to affect seemingly every aspect of our lives, both in big and small ways, it can sometimes feel as if nothing else is going on in the world. But it was made abundantly clear for Canadians over the weekend that this is not the case, with the news of the shooting tragedy in rural Nova Scotia.

We here in the Diocese of Toronto are no strangers to gun violence. Too many lives are lost each year in senseless shootings on our streets, acts both targeted and random. In some respects, these crimes have lost their “shock value.” Yet every life lost in this way is a tragedy. And a shooting tragedy on this scale – the largest in modern history for our nation – in a province that is more commonly known for its quiet peacefulness, hits all of us in a new way, and reminds us of the pervasive evil of gun violence.

In the Easter Season, we remember that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the whole world – and rose again to triumph over death with new life. This is our Easter joy, so that even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia!

In the same way that he contacted us two years ago after the Yonge Street van attack, I have reached out to Archbishop Ron Cutler, to assure him of our love and prayers for our siblings in the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

I invite you to pray for all those involved in these sad events: for all the deceased, their families and friends who mourn; the communities who are grappling with these events and their impact, especially those who are experiencing anxiety and fear in a new way; for those who must investigate what happened, and for all those who will provide hope and comfort in the days to come. COVID-19 has complicated how we support each other in times of grief, but we pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us in words and acts of love and service.

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto