(AP) – From NFL stadiums to churches to the Vatican, demonstrations of support and caring pour in for those affected by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.:
Pope Benedict XVI told pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday he is praying for the families of the 20 children and six adults who were killed. Speaking in English, Benedict said he was “deeply saddened by Friday’s senseless violence in Newtown, Conn.”
“I assure the families of the victims, especially those who lost a child, of my closeness in prayer,” the pope said in his first public comments on the massacre. “May the God of consolation touch their hearts and ease their pain.”
In his traditional Sunday appearance from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, adorned by a tall Christmas tree, Benedict said that as the holiday approaches “let us dedicate ourselves more fervently to prayer and to acts of peace.”
He then invoked “God’s abundant blessings” upon those “affected by this tragedy.”
There were moments of silence before all NFL games Sunday.
St. Louis Rams running back Daryl Richardson and Minnesota Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield _ who both wear uniform No. 26 _ and their coaches came together at midfield before their game in St. Louis and were surrounded by a massive circle of children and players in tribute to the 26 children and staff killed Friday.
In Atlanta, Giants’ players wore decals with the acronym “SHES” on the backs of their helmets.
Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad offered condolences to relatives of victims. Ahmadinejad extended his sympathy to American people saying he received the news on the shooting in “deep sorrow,” according to a report by the official IRNA news agency
Ahmadinejad urged an inquiry to find out roots of such “shocking violent actions.”
He expressed hope to witness a day in future in which nations will live together in “peace, love and friendship.”
Reports on the Connecticut shooting found a wide coverage by Iranian media and prompted reactions in commentaries in both official and independent news outlet.
At Wyoming Presbyterian Church in Millburn, N.J., the Rev. E. Nicholas Van Gombos gathered the young children together at the front of the sanctuary and delicately spoke about “the sad thing that happened” in Connecticut and prayed with them for Jesus to send his love to the families.
Invoking the words of another Presbyterian minister, TV’s Mr. Rogers, he said that when something sad happens, we should think of the heroes and the helpers.
He later asked the children _ about a dozen or so _ and the rest of the congregation to stand, hold hands and sing a Sunday School staple that was suddenly infused with sadness; “Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
Many in the congregation wept and put their arms around their own children, even if they were now adults.
Members of a Sikh community say the support they got after a gunman killed six people at a Milwaukee-area temple four months ago was invaluable _ and they want to extend that same support to victims of the Connecticut school shooting. More than 50 people prayed Saturday at the Sikh Religious Society of Wisconsin in Brookfield. Those who attended signed a card for victims in Connecticut. At the top, the card said, “We stand together.”
In August, a white supremacist opened fire inside the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek before killing himself.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)