Early on the morning of Saturday, September 16, my final day of vacation in Honolulu, I was awakened in my hotel room by a noise that I thought was fireworks. I thought of fireworks for a nanosecond as it was still dark outside – nighttime, I thought – but then almost immediately recognized the noise as gunshots. The siren of a police car arriving nearby confirmed that I had heard shots. I did not count but if I had to estimate, I’d have said I heard 8 or so gunshots.

Normally when something suddenly wakes me, as earthquakes have done in the past, I look at the alarm clock but did not do so that morning. Only later, when I looked out my sixth floor window beyond my balcony and saw police car lights flashing, did I learn that, at about 6 am, three men had been shot in a small courtyard I saw every morning as I had breakfast on my balcony.

I never went back to sleep but spent time wondering what had happened, had anyone been hit or hurt on the ground and first floor rooms of the hotel and/or adjacent buildings, and so on. At least half a dozen police cars were still on Kuhio Street, outside my hotel and on the cross street, Seaside, when friends came at noon to pick me up for lunch.

News updates arrived in bits and spurts but I learned eventually that a man was arrested, one of three, after the shooting that left one man dead and two others wounded.

Whether that shooting was drug-fueled or part of a gang killing, I do not know.

And, as horrible as any shooting is, what happened last night in Las Vegas leaves me breathless. I’m a wordsmith by profession but words fail me at this moment. To use “massacre,” “senseless tragedy,” “horrifying,” “unspeakable,” to describe last night’s killing spree just doesn’t seem to be enough.

I’ve followed events on Foxnews all day and even the expression, “an image is worth a thousand words,” doesn’t seem to do it.

As President Trump said, this was “an act of pure evil.” The evil of the killer in fact defies description. The numbers of dead and injured are mind-boggling: 58 dead and over 500 injured as I write.

Two of my nieces and one nephew and his wife (my sister’s two daughters and one son) went to a U-2 concert in San Diego on September 22 – yet another big venue and enormous crowd. All went well, of course, but that’s all I could think of today as I followed the news from Las Vegas. I though about that San Diego concert, of all the people who went home that night, tired but very happy, of seeing my nieces and nephew who could tell me about the concert.

And the people last night who will never go home again.

The best we can do now is pray. I know there are moments in life – such as now – when those words might seem almost trivial to some, but to people of real faith, praying is now the best way we can help those who mourn, especially prayers for the repose of the souls of those who died.

Requiescat in pace!


Following is the telegram sent by Secretary of State Pietro Parolin in the name of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, to the Most Reverend Joseph Anthony Pepe, Bishop of Las Vegas:

Deeply saddened to learn of the shooting in Las Vegas, Pope Francis sends the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all those affected by this senseless tragedy. He commends the efforts of the police and emergency service personnel, and offers the promise of his prayers for the injured and for all who have died, entrusting them to the merciful love of Almighty God.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State

The attack in Las Vegas is being described as the deadliest mass shooting in United States history. The gunman, identified by police as Stephen Paddock,64, died at the scene. Police said he fired from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas Strip casino onto an outdoor country music festival Sunday night.


Two very important meetings will take place in Rome this week. Members of the Child Protection Center of Rome’s Jesuit-run Gregorian University will meet October 3 to 6 for a global conference on “Child Dignity in the Digital World.”

This is the result of an initiative launched by the European Union called ONE IN FIVE, referring to the fact that that one boy or girl of every five, that is, 20% of all children in Europe, are victims of sexual abuse. Father Hans Zollner, president of the Child Protection Center, said, ahead of the first global conference on “Child Dignity in the Digital World, “These are horrifying figures.”

This phenomenon circulates on the web via sextortion, sexting, cyberbullying, etc. The victims are children and adolescents in particular. Moreover, 25% of over 3.2 billion Internet users worldwide are children.

Fr. Zollner said, “The purpose of the meeting is to elicit a discussion and sharing platform, and, above all, to launch a set of actions against the sexual abuse of minors online and for the protection of minors in the digital.”

The conference will bring together people and institutions involved in countering this problem in different ways. Government representatives, business executives – especially CEOs of companies linked to the Internet world – law-enforcement authorities, NGOs, international organizations such as UNICEF, along with representatives of media outlets and religious communities: Christians, Jews and Muslims, and experts in the digital world.

The second big meeting this week is that of the Pontifical Academy for Life as members gather in Vatican City for the 23rd General assembly and the October 5 to 7 Workshop, “Accompanying Life: New Responsibilities in the Technological Era.” This is the first meeting of the Academy since the statutes were revised and new members appointed by Pope Francis.