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PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo
PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo
World News

'Evil is never the last word' says Bishop of Plymouth on city's dark day

by Donna Birrell

Church leaders have been expressing their shock and sadness after a mass shooting in Plymouth in which six people, including a 3-year-old girl, died.

Prayers are being said at churches across the city, including at St Mark's Church and a special vigil is being held at St Thomas' Keyham, close to where the tragedy happened. 
Speaking to Premier, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Plymouth, the Rt Rev Mark O'Toole, described his feelings on hearing the news:

"Awful events with a real sense of shock and sadness personally and I think shared by the whole city and indeed across the whole country- for those who've died, those who've been injured and for their families, it's a really, really dark day for Plymouth."

Bishop Mark has asked for all Catholic churches in the area to remain open:

"The first thing was to make sure that all the churches were opened today to be places of oasis of peace, of safety, for anyone who wants to come just to spend a few moments because I think, in the face of an event like this, one's immediately sort of numbed by the shock and the sense of immense sadness, and a sense of solidarity for those who are suffering and you want to be with them. 

"I think, for us, as Christians, we know that darkness, an experience of evil, is never the last word, and therefore, to come and make our way to the Cross, even to sit there to gaze on the Lord Jesus, in his suffering and in his pain, we know that we believe in a God who has, in a mysterious way, entered into the fullness of our suffering and has taken that upon himself. And therefore this is not the last word, even though it seems so intractable and terrible."

"Plymouth is a lovely city and has a very strong and robust sense of community. And I think that's already been shown in terms of the sense of support that there is for the emergency services and for those who are dealing with this tragedy on our doorstep. I think that sense of solidarity and community will deepen as the hours and days go on. But it doesn't take away from the immense sense of shock and sadness, especially for those who've lost their lives. And those who have been injured and for their families, those most immediately affected by this terrible tragedy."

PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo


The Superintendent Minister of Plymouth and Devonport Methodist Circuit, Rev Andy Chislett-McDonald, spoke to Premier just after supporting some of the local community at a church in Keyham:

"There was shock and sadness, confusion, tears. We are opening up as many sites as we can to be with others who are grieving. It is trauma." 

Rev Andy says it is at times like these that many people are drawn to the sign of the Cross. 

On his way back from supporting local people, he met a woman at a bus-stop who asked to speak to him as he was wearing his clerical collar:

"We had a prayer for peace together and we sighed together and she went on waiting for her bus."  

The Anglican Bishop of Plymouth, the Rt Rev Nick McKinnel has issued a statement about the tragedy that unfolded on Thursday evening:

"Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been injured or bereaved by this terrible shooting in Plymouth. It is horrific to think of it happening in our own city. St Thomas Church in Keyham and St Marks Church in Ford are open for anyone who would like somewhere to pray and reflect and someone to talk to. We stand with the community of Keyham. We are working alongside other local organisations and will continue to offer whatever pastoral and practical support we can. We think of Jesus weeping over the city of Jerusalem and the way in which God himself feels our pain and takes it on himself. We weep with those who weep."

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