World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia has expressed "deep sorrow" over "this new horror of random violence" that took place at Virginia Tech University on Monday 16 April 2007. To his prayers for the families and the wounded, he added international church concern for more effective regulation of firearms.
"Churches around the world join churches and councils of churches in the US in sending sympathies to those who are suffering, and in upholding parishes in Virginia in their ministry during these difficult days", said Dr Kobia in a statement published yesterday.
Dr Kobia affirmed that "In deference to those who have died and with concern for the future, we all must ask why such killings happen so easily. Why are these incidents repeated as if there are no remedies?
"We are all Virginians in our sympathy, but many people around the world are also Virginians in their vulnerability to the misuse of unregulated guns", Kobia declared.
"Wanton killings", "indiscriminate use of armed force" and "widespread availability of deadly weapons" are features of the Virginia tragedy but are also present daily in Darfur and in Iraq, he said.
Dr Kobia called for "firm and appropriate controls" on the globalized trade in small arms. He notes, among other factors, that the "pro-gun position adopted by the US administration" has been "one of the major obstacles" to progress toward that goal.
The World Council of Churches, which brings together Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and indigenous churches across the globe, has a longstanding concern for combating violence.
The Decade to Overcome Violence and build a culture of peace has brought together church and civic groups. It has included a ‘peace to the city’ initiative which included action on gun crime and domestic attacks.