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Orlando horror: statement from Archbishop Philip Freier

Horrific slaughter in Orlando is profoundly saddening and shocking, says Archbishop Freier.

June 15 2016Statement by Dr Philip Freier, Anglican Primate of Australia and Archbishop of Melbourne

The horrific slaughter of 49 people in Orlando, Florida, by an apparently unhinged gunman is profoundly saddening and shocking. Anglicans, along with other Australians, have been moved by this senseless loss of life.

It is always wrong to target any people because of their sexual orientation, whether it is name-calling in the school playground or this sort of atrocity. Homophobia is always and everywhere wrong. But it would also be wrong to blame Muslims or Islam as a religion for the actions of Omar Mateen. Although he claimed to be acting on behalf of Islamic State, it has since emerged that he was a regular patron of the gay nightclub.

Along with my prayers for the victims’ families and loved ones, I also hope and pray that there is no backlash against Australian Muslims. Christians know what it is to be targeted by extremists because of their faith, and we do not want to see Muslims or people of other faiths or none suffer such persecution.

There will be an ecumenical service, Light of Hope in Darkness, for the victims tomorrow at 6pm at St Paul’s Cathedral. It will be attended by faith leaders, representatives of the Premier, Daniel Andrews, and of the Government and Opposition, and by diplomats from several countries. It will be preceded by a vigil in Federation Square from 5.30pm.