Statement of Interim President and Dean Francis Fornaro on the Orlando Shooting

Sunday’s murderous events in Orlando have left us saddened and frustrated, shocked and angry, in despair for our world and in a loss for words. This mass shooting becomes “yet another” tragedy in a long and tired series of tragedies in America, and we are left with a profound sense of loss—loss of people we love, loss of a communal sense of safety, a loss of our power as citizens in a democratic society. We struggle to find ways to respond to this violence, and to not get lost in the maze of the sadness, distress, and grief that surrounds us. We struggle as we realize that the events in Orlando and San Bernardino, in Charleston and Sandy Hook, are indicative of our collective failure to affect change in our laws, in our culture, and in one another’s hearts—a failure that is both the cause and a byproduct of our culture of fear, our politics of hate, and our society of marginalization.

How do we find love in the midst of hate? How do find clarity in today’s haze? As difficult as it is, we must respond in a way that we as humans are best able to: we love unceasingly as best as we can, we use our voices to advocate for commonsense, constitutional gun control laws that put an end to mass shootings, we continually remind each other about God’s acceptance of all human beings as God’s own children, we unceasingly shout the Gospels’ call for Christ’s peace to transcend all.

How do we find hope where there seems to be none? We must not be deterred by our fear, or by hopelessness or cynicism. To be sure, that sadness, that fear, and that hopelessness is real, but they do not exempt us from our duty as people of God and as members of a plural society to work for the common good. I pray using the words of Abraham Lincoln, that we may “have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”

Our duty as followers of Jesus, as members of a national and global community that is increasingly confronted with senseless spasms of violence, is to work ceaselessly for constructive change in our churches and in the world. Today, we here at EDS rededicate ourselves to the ongoing struggle to end gun violence, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and hate of all kinds in our country, and the world.

We recommit ourselves as a divinity school to our longstanding and unwavering work of educating and training women and men in the ways of anti-oppression, peace, and justice. We recommit to conflict resolution in the way of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to join in this effort with ecumenical and interfaith communities whenever and wherever possible. I invite our students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni/ae, supporters, and the general public to join us in our rededication and recommitment to teaching and practicing peace, and to raising our voices for love.

The Very Rev. Francis Fornaro
Interim President and Dean

About Episcopal Divinity School

Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) is a progressive seminary and theological graduate school for lay and ordained leaders of all denominations. Committed to a mission of social justice and inclusive education and grounded in the Anglican tradition, EDS awards Master’s degrees in Divinity and Theological Studies, Doctoral degrees in Ministry, and Certificates in Anglican Formation; Justice, Reconciliation, and Mission; and Christian Spiritualities for the Contemporary World.

EDS graduates serve as lay and ordained ministers of The Episcopal Church as well as in other Christian denominations. They are also leaders in a variety of professions and industries, including non-profit executives, mental health professionals, social workers, community organizers, academics, artists, and writers, often in addition to their work as clergy or church leaders.

EDS is a member of the Boston Theological Institute, a consortium of eminent theological schools, seminaries, and departments of religion in the Boston area.

A seminary for The Episcopal Church, Episcopal Divinity School is grounded in the Anglican tradition and committed to growing in relationship with other Christian and faith traditions. Episcopal Divinity School is an academic community of biblical, historical, and theological inquiry that respects students as responsible learners with valuable experience, supports spiritual and ministerial formation, and provides tools for the life-long work of social and personal transformation.