Pope Francis sends 'blessing' to families of Plymouth shooting victims

Pope Francis sends 'blessing' to families of Plymouth shooting victims

POPE FRANCIS has offered his condolences to the families of the victims of the Plymouth shooting last week.

Gunman Jake Davison, 22, killed his 51-year-old mother Maxine and four others before turning the gun on himself on August 12 in the worst mass-shooting in the UK in more than a decade.

The killings shocked the local community, many of whom joined prayer services to pray tribute to the victims in the days following.

In a letter to the Catholic Bishop of Plymouth, Mark O'Toole, Cardinal Pietro Parolin said His Holiness Pope Francis was "saddened to learn of last Thursday's shooting, and that he wanted to "convey to those affected the assurance of his spiritual closeness".

The letter read: "He joins you in commending the souls of those who died to Almighty God's loving mercy and he implores the divine gifts of healing and consolation upon the injured and bereaved.

"With prayers that Christ the Redeemer will grant to all the strength to renounce violence and to overcome every evil with good. His Holiness cordially imparts apostolic blessing."

Francis' letter comes in the wake of a service led by the Anglican Bishop of Plymouth, Right Reverend Nick McKinnel, in which he urged people to "rise above" the need to find someone to blame.

"There should be anger, but let us direct it at those who disseminate hate and feed on the insecurities, isolation and bitterness of confused and sick people," Bishop McKinnel said.

After murdering his mother with a shotgun, Davison wandered out into the street and started killing at random.

He shot and killed a three-year-old girl and her adoptive father before injuring two other women. Next, he shot and killed a 59-year-old man as he walked through a local park before fatally shooting a 66-year-old woman outside a salon.

Davison eventually turning the gun on himself before police could get to him.

The troubled young man was understood to be an 'incel' or 'involuntary celibate', a generally male online community who find themselves to be physically unattractive and unable to meet women. The movement is underlined by serious misogyny.