President Obama cut short his campaign trip in Florida, instead delivering a brief address in Fort Myers. “There are going to be other days for politics,” Obama said. “This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection.”
Obama touched on the fragility of life, his concerns as the father of two young daughters, and urged Americans to “spend a little time thinking about the incredible blessings that God has given us.”
“Our time here is limited and it is precious,” Obama said. “And what matters at the end of the day is not the small things, it’s not the trivial things, which so often consume us and our daily lives. Ultimately, it’s how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another.”
Romney also curtailed campaign events, delivering brief remarks at what was to be a rally in Bow, N.H.
“This morning Colorado lost youthful voices which would have brightened their homes, enriched their schools and brought joy to their families. Our prayer is that the Comforter might bring the peace to their souls that surpasses their understanding.”
Paraphrasing the Apostle Paul, Romney said, “Blessed be God ... who comforteth us in all our tribulations, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble.”
Religious leaders urged wounded victims and relatives of the deceased to put their faith in a higher power.
“As Catholic bishops, we ‘weep with those who weep,’ said Archbishop Samuel Aquila and Auxiliary Bishop James Conley of Denver, citing, like Romney, the Apostle Paul.
“But in Aurora, which means ‘the dawn, the sun rose this morning,” the bishops continued. “In a city whose name evokes the light, people of hope know that the darkness may be overcome.”
The Catholic bishops also prayed for the perpetrator of the shooting, and for his conversion. “Evil ruled his heart last night,” said Aquila and Conley in a statement. “Only Jesus Christ can overcome the darkness of such evil.”
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team quickly sent chaplains to the scene in Aurora, as they have after mass killings in Tucson, Ariz. in 2011 and at Virginia Tech University in 2007.
“We will be there to offer emotional and spiritual care, and the hope and compassion of Jesus Christ, in the aftermath,” said team director Jack Munday in a statement.
Other religious leaders argued that the U.S. needs tougher gun control laws. Holmes had four guns, including an assault rifle, according to law enforcement authorities.
Kathryn Mary Lohre, president of the National Council of Churches, called on elected officials to “seek policies that will foster greater peace in our communities and throughout this country.”