A prominent Catholic prelate issued a strong statement in favor of gun control after Sunday’s terrorist attack in Orlando, which left nearly 50 people dead.
Bishop Robert N. Lynch of the diocese of St. Petersburg in Florida issued a statement Monday, saying he strongly condemned the availability of so-called “assault rifles.”
“Our founding parents had no knowledge of assault rifles which are intended to be weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “In crafting the second amendment to the Constitution which I affirm, they thought only of the most awkward of pistols and heavy shotguns. I suspect they are turning in their graves if they can but glimpse at what their words now protect. It is long past time to ban the sale of all assault weapons whose use should be available only to the armed forces. If one is truly pro-life, then embrace this issue also and work for the elimination of sales to those who would turn them on innocents.”
He then condemned LGBT bigotry, which he said often has roots in religion, including Catholicism. (RELATED: This Catholic Cardinal Is Under Investigation For Hate Crimes)
Lynch is widely regarded as one of the most liberal prelates in American Catholicism. In recent years he has labelled pro-life groups as “merely anti-abortion,” and restricted the practice of the Tridentine Mass within his diocese — the Latin liturgy of the pre-Vatican II Church that is still preferred by traditionalist Catholics.
He was also criticized by some Catholic commentators for welcoming a controversial gay-positive Christian group called New Ways Ministry into St. Petersburg. The Vatican ordered the group’s co-founders, Father Robert Nugent and Sister Jeannine Gramick to resign the ministry in 1984 because of their open dissent from Church teaching on human sexuality. The group was condemned by a Vatican department responsible for promulgating and defending Catholic doctrine in 1999.
Lynch served as general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the governing conference of the Catholic Church in the United States, from 1989-1995. The USCCB issued a short statement promising prayers for the dead and solidarity with those affected. The entire conference has not issued a comprehensive statement on gun control.
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