Where was God? Archbishop Wenski on faith in face of tragedy

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 20, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO: They're young, they're angry, and, by the busloads, they're heading right now to Tallahassee, Florida, to express their frustration with state lawmakers as to how they could have dropped the ball on something like this and let another school shooting happen, when there were so many pieces of the legislation to either rein in guns, as they see it, or at least tighten up the privacy standards, so that we would have more information, as was available on the shooter last week.

It's a tough call in how far you go on all of this. Many of those young people questioning, what happened to God? Where was God?

Archbishop Thomas Wenski here returning from another funeral today.

Archbishop, thank you for taking the time.


Where was God? This is a question that many people are asking. And as I said this morning at the funeral of one young girl, there's no answer that would be satisfactory to the parents or the siblings of these victims of last Wednesday, at least not right now.

But we had a funeral today in a church called Mary Help of Christians. And there's a beautiful image of Mary, the Pieta, where she holds the broken body of her son at the foot of the cross.

And in that sense, I think, in the darkness of our grief, there's a light of faith that shows us that God is with us, sharing in our own sufferings and our own pain. This is the -- this is really the message of Lent that we just began on Wednesday, when these shootings took place.

And so we are called to have faith in the darkness of our grief today.

CAVUTO: You know, Bishop, so many people look at what happened, and they understand you don't necessarily blame God, whatever, but that horrific tragedies like this, from them maybe is born an opportunity to do something.

Do you think that these kids, some as young as 13, 14 years old descending on the state capitol to demand their state legislators do something, that that is the proper channeling of their anger?

WENSKI: I think it's one way to channel their anger.

And it is also a very good way, because it gets them involved and not sitting back passively, saying that we can do nothing. I think addressing the availability of guns is something that is really overdue.

I think, at the same time, we have to look into the whole issue of mental health. Our mental health delivery system in our country is broken and has been for years, ever since they institutionalized the mentally ill about 40, 50 years ago, but did not provide any supportive services for them.

And so if anyone has had a relative that is suffering from a severe mental illness, they know how difficult it is for them to get those relatives the help that they need.

This was the case of that young boy that shot up those elementary school kids in Connecticut.

CAVUTO: Right.

WENSKI: Yes. And this is a real tragedy.

CAVUTO: But how does the church deal with it? How do you, as a bishop, as a bishop, how do you deal with questions like this?

That maybe it's our society, maybe it's the way we have become, maybe those who perpetrate these attacks have forgotten God, don't think about God, the violence in society, the indifference to life in society. Peggy Noonan, the writer, has written long ago that what we have is a sense where life doesn't seem to be valued or treasured as much, and these things are not surprising.

What do you think of that?


And Peggy Noonan's op-ed in Saturday's Wall Street Journal was excellent.

CAVUTO: Right. Right.

WENSKI: It hit the point, why do we have murder in our hearts as an American society?

And we have to get beyond that. And there are a lot of -- and you just listed a whole litany of reasons that explain all of this.

But -- and we live in the midst of this. And, as a man of faith, as a church man, I'm called to accompany people through this pilgrimage of life, which is -- and that great prayer that we say is often a valley of tears.

And so we go forth mourning and weeping in this valley of tears, but convinced that God didn't create us, God didn't make us just so that we could die one day. He created us for a higher purpose. And faith helps us to believe in the resurrection, even in the face of the harsh reality, the brutal reality of death.

CAVUTO: Tough thing to tell a parent, though, who has lost a 14-year-old child, right?

WENSKI: Oh, it's tough. It's tough every day.

And, you know, parents expect that their children will bury them. And that's part of the natural course of life. It's hard for a child to bury his parent or her parent.

CAVUTO: Indeed.

WENSKI: But it's really a tragedy when a parent has to bury a child, which is why that image of the Pieta is so moving, and when we look at it, when we see the Blessed Mother holding the broken body of Jesus in her arms.

CAVUTO: A good reminder. Bishop, thank you.

WENSKI: And that represents all of those parents that are suffering this day.

CAVUTO: Thank you.

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