Mass in Aurora draws people seeking answers to tragedy

By Kate Veik

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Archbishop Samuel J Aquila comforts a parishioner at Queen of Peace Catholic Church on the evening of July 20, 2012.

In his homily following a July 20 mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila reminded a crowd of faithful that though there is evil in the world, there is also mercy.

“Sin, evil and death do not have the last word,” he said, citing Jesus’ victory over death through his resurrection.

The Mass was held at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church – just blocks from Century 16 Theatre – where 12 people were killed and at least 59 were injured when a gunman opened fire at a midnight showing of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.”

The newly-installed archbishop warned Catholics against responding to the violence with vengeance.

“That is not the way of Jesus Christ,” he said. “We must be peacemakers. We are called to love as Christ loved and commit ourselves to peace.”

Parishioner Juliet Younger said her daughter Jo Ann spent the hours leading up to the Mass at University Hospital in Denver where five of her friends are being treated for injuries. Jo Ann said one of them remains in critical condition.

They said they came to the Mass to find peace.

“And hopefully understand ‘why,’” Juliet said, with tears in her eyes. “I don’t understand this. Why go there and kill those people? Why?”

The archbishop said people like the Youngers can take hope from the fact that God is present in their suffering.

“What occurred … was an encounter with evil, an encounter with violence,” he said. “Certainly the love of the Father is stronger than the bullets that killed 12 and wounded (many more).”

Nearly two dozen priests concelebrated the Mass with the archbishop.

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