An “unspeakable tragedy” is how Pope Francis described the events that unfolded on Wednesday, 25 October, in Lewiston, Maine, in the United States, where 40-year-old Robert Card opened fire at a bowling alley and then at a bar, killing 18 people and injuring 13 others before fleeing and taking his own life. In a telegram signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and sent to Bishop Robert Deeley of Portland, the Pope expresses his profound sorrow upon learning of “the terrible loss of life resulting from the mass shooting”, and he communicates his “spiritual closeness” to the victims’ families. Pope Francis entrusts “the souls of the dead to the loving mercy of Almighty God”, and he prays “for the recovery of the wounded and the medical personnel caring for them”. He also commends “the noble efforts of first responders who put themselves in harm’s way to protect the community”.
“With firm trust that aided by God’s grace we can overcome evil with good”, the telegram concludes, “the Holy Father invokes upon the people of Lewiston and indeed the entire country, Almighty God’s blessings of strength and peace”.
The Maine Department of Public Safety announced that Card was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at 7:45 p.m., on Friday, 27 October, near the Androscoggin River. An Army reservist, Card had recently lost his job due to mental health issues.
News of Card’s death was met with relief by President Joe Biden who in a statement affirmed, “We’re grateful that Lewiston and surrounding communities are safe after spending excruciating days hiding in their homes”. He then reiterated his appeal to “Republicans in Congress to fulfill their obligation to keep the American people safe” and to put an end to “this gun violence epidemic”.