This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire
. The author of this post is Bree Dail
VATICAN CITY Pope Francis has issued a long-anticipated statement of prayer and condolences through a telegram sent Thursday to Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez as funerals are held throughout the week for slain Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell.
Thirteen days ago, O'Connell was murdered in his suburban Los Angeles home with "at least one"
gunshot wound to his upper chest. Two days after a deacon found O'Connell, L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna announced citizen tips had led to the arrest of 61-year-old Carlos Medina, the husband of the Bishop's housekeeper.
The Catholic community throughout the L.A. Archdiocese was at a loss; its Archbishop was overwhelmed with grief during a press conference representing the many who formed prayer vigils outside the late bishop's home.
"Deeply saddened to learn of the untimely and tragic death of Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell, his Holiness Pope Francis sends heartfelt condolences to you, the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese,"
said Cardinal Pietro Parolin in a statement on behalf of Pope Francis. "He joins you in giving thanks for Bishop O'Connell's years of devoted priestly and Episcopal ministry to the church in Los Angeles, marked especially by his profound concern for the poor, immigrants and those in need, his efforts to uphold the sanctity and dignity of God's gift of life and his zeal for fostering solidarity, cooperation and peace within the local community."
"To those gathered for the mass of Christian burial and to all who mourn Bishop O'Connell's loss in the sure hope of the resurrection, the Holy Father cordially imparts his blessing as a pledge of peace and consolation in the Lord,"
the statement continued.
Accompanying the grief, however, was the noted silence from Pope Francis, whose comments during his Wednesday Audience and Sunday Angelus focused on many tragic circumstances throughout the world-including a shipwreck of migrants off the coast of Italy, terrorist attacks in the Holy Land and Burkina Faso and the ongoing war in Ukraine-but not the shooting death of one of his own.
With the slow trickle of information from law enforcement and the years of press coverage over sex abuse and financial corruption scandals, many took to social media to express a mix of grief, shock, and speculation about the motives behind a daytime killing of a U.S. Catholic Bishop.
Speaking exclusively with The Daily Wire a day after the arrest of Medina, former Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angelus, Bishop Robert Barron, strongly condemned unsupported speculations, gossip, and rumormongering found on social media and within certain headlines, which often resulted in calumny against his friend and brother Bishop.
"I think people who think that way are misguided,"
Barron stated during a zoom call with The Daily Wire. "This was a shock. I've spoken with a number of my brother bishops out in California and here and elsewhere, and it has been extremely difficult."
Asked how he and other church leaders were dealing with the grief, the questions, and the silence from the Vatican, Barron responded, "What you do is place it in the hands of God and trusting God's providence. Whatever God permits is ultimately conducive towards some good that perhaps we can't see."
"No one knew that better than Bishop Dave O'Connell,"
he continued. "He was a man who was not only very dedicated to his people, but he had a keen spiritual sensibility-he knew all about the Divine Providence and took it very seriously. His approach would always be to reach out to people who were suffering, even if they were directing negative thoughts and actions towards him."
Bishop Barron revealed that he found out his friend had died through a statement issued by the Archdiocese of L.A. that said O'Connell had "died unexpectedly."
"So, I just got the word that he died, and I was in shock at that,"
Barron explained, "But then, the next morning, I woke up and I saw these reports that he had been shot, and that just doubled or tripled the shock value. I am still processing the shock, dismay, grief. He and I were good friends. We were ordained bishops, together. I had great admiration for him, love for him."
On February 21, The Daily Wire contacted Matteo Bruni of the Holy See Press Office seeking comment on the murder and the apprehension of the suspect after days of silence from the Vatican. No response was given, nor when The Daily Wire inquired later, asking what was keeping the Vatican from issuing a statement, as has been the norm for past clergy murders.
Turning to Bishop Barron, The Daily Wire asked how he would describe his friend to the pope if he were called upon to do so.
"Bishop O'Connell had a side that was very much involved in the Charismatic Renewal. He was very involved in Deliverance Ministry-for people who were suffering from acute psychological and spiritual suffering, he worked with them."
Barron recalled. "He had a very strong social justice side-obviously, with his work with the poor and with inner-city gangs."
"Some identify 'social justice' with the 'Left' side of the church, and identify the charismatic, the liturgical, and the prayerfulness with the 'Right' side of the church,"
he continued. "Bishop O'Connell embodied both, he didn't fall under that (polarization) at all. That was what made him, I think, very attractive to so many. I think that's what made him a "Francis bishop." He had a lot of those qualities and virtues that Pope Francis talks about. I would tell Pope Francis all that-that he was a great man, and a great bishop."