A prominent and beloved Catholic bishop who served the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, California, for several decades was murdered in his home about two weeks ago.
Now, following two weeks of silence on the death of Auxillary Bishop David O’Connell, Pope Francis has finally issued a statement of condolences and blessings for those who are grieving the tragic loss, the Daily Wire reported.
The delay in there being any mention of O’Connell’s murder from the Vatican seemed odd to some, the outlet noted, particularly in light of the fact that the pope has made public comments on multiple occasions during that span and even spoke directly of numerous other tragedies around the world — except one of his own bishops being killed.
Statement from the pope
The Vatican News reported Wednesday that Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of State, sent a telegram on behalf of Pope Francis to Jose Gomez, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, to express his sorrow at the loss of the popular priest.
“Deeply saddened to learn of the untimely and tragic death of Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell, his Holiness Pope Francis sends heartfelt condolences to you, the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese,” the message from the pope stated.
“He joins you in giving thanks for Bishop O’Connell’s years of devoted priestly and Episcopal ministry to the church in Los Angeles, marked especially by his profound concern for the poor, immigrants, and those in need, his efforts to uphold the sanctity and dignity of God’s gift of life and his zeal for fostering solidarity, cooperation and peace within the local community,” Parolin’s telegram continued.
“To those gathered for the mass of Christian burial and to all who mourn Bishop O’Connell’s loss in the sure hope of the resurrection, the Holy Father cordially imparts his blessing as a pledge of peace and consolation in the Lord,” the cardinal said.
“In commending the late Bishop’s soul to the love and mercy of Christ the Good Shepherd, His Holiness prays that all who honor his memory will be confirmed in the resolve to reject the ways of violence and overcome evil with good,” the message added and was concluded with an Apostolic Blessing, according to the Vatican News.
Suspect arrested and charged
The New York Post reported that less than a week after Bishop O’Connell had been found shot dead in his Hacienda Heights home on Feb. 18, the Los Angeles police had made an arrest and Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon announced that his office would move forward with a murder charge prosecution.
The suspect in the slaying of the bishop was identified as 61-year-old Carlos Medina, a local handyman who was married to O’Connell’s housekeeper and had previously done work on the bishop’s home.
“This was a brutal act of violence against a person who dedicated a life to making our neighborhood safer, healthier and always serving with love and compassion,” Gascon said in a statement to announce the murder prosecution. “Charging Mr. Medina will never repair the tremendous harm that was caused by this callous act, but it does take one step closer to accountability.”
If convicted, Medina could face up to 35 years to life in prison. He was assigned a public defender at an arraignment hearing last month, and an investigation into the incident remains ongoing, as authorities have yet to determine a motive for the homicide.
Former bishop describes his murdered friend
“Bishop O’Connell had a side that was very much involved in the Charismatic Renewal. He was very involved in Deliverance Ministry — for people who were suffering from acute psychological and spiritual suffering, he worked with them,” former L.A. Auxillary Bishop Robert Barron, a close friend of O’Connell, told the Daily Wire. “He had a very strong social justice side — obviously, with his work with the poor and with inner-city gangs.”
“Some identify ‘social justice’ with the ‘Left’ side of the church, and identify the charismatic, the liturgical, and the prayerfulness with the ‘Right’ side of the church. Bishop O’Connell embodied both, he didn’t fall under that (polarization) at all,” Barron added. “That was what made him, I think, very attractive to so many. I think that’s what made him a ‘Francis bishop.’ He had a lot of those qualities and virtues that Pope Francis talks about. I would tell Pope Francis all that — that he was a great man, and a great bishop.”