WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – We must do more than offer prayers and support. 

Bishop Mark E. Brennan of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston said he stands by his call for a special legislative session. 

The Bishop urged Governor Justice to call a special session to ban assault weapons last week, after the latest deadly shooting in the United States. 

This came after his initial statement to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston that said in part “we must now do more than offer prayers and support”.

In an exclusive interview Bishop Brennan told 7News he feels even more passionate about the issue. 

We have schools and churches and synagogues and public festivals and concert halls and supermarkets where people congregate, right? Eventually I think the needle on the dial is gonna stop at West Virginia. We’ll have our massacre too and then we’ll be wondering why didn’t we do something when we had the chance to do something.

Bishop Mark E. Brennan, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

Bishop Brennan called on the Benedictine motto of prayer and work to describe what he wants for the state of West Virginia. Prayers for an end to hatred and violence, followed by work to improve safety. 

It’s the work part of that phrase that’s sparked conversations in the past week

I would commend Governor Justice and his team for the excellent work that they’ve done during the pandemic. Knowing what’s going on in some other states, our team here, lead by the Governor, did a very good job in a matter of public safety. This other matter in the use of these high-powered weapons, military style weapons basically massacring people, that’s a matter of public safety too.

Bishop Mark E. Brennan, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

Bishop Brennan praised the way Governor Jim Justice protected West Virginians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, he now stands by his request for the Governor to call a special session to address gun control and banning assault weapons.

The Bishop told 7News he has communicated directly with the Governor, but said he will keep the contents of that message private.

I believe he (Governor Justice) is a man of good will who will at least give some consideration to what I wrote.

Bishop Mark E. Brennan, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

When asked about those who feel he is wrong to call for action, the Bishop had a strong reaction.

No, no, no. As a religious leader I have to be concerned about the welfare of our people. The Great Commandment; love God with your whole heart, mind, soul and strength. But, what’s the other part of it? Love thy neighbor as yourself. Do good for others. Why do we have soup kitchens? We have schools and hospitals to do good for others.

I’m a citizen too and I have a right to speak my mind on those matters. Religion, my religion, moves me to be involved in the public square and to be concerned about all my people.

Bishop Mark E. Brennan, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

So, why get involved now? The Bishop said West Virginia can’t let the loss of 21 people in Uvalde pass, as other massacres have passed, without doing anything. 

Let’s do good for the people of our state. Let’s try to protect them more fully than they’re protected now. 

Bishop Mark E. Brennan, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

7News tried to ask Governor Justice to comment on Bishop Brennan’s request during his media briefing on Tuesday, but it was cut short due to technical issues.

However the Governor did address the shooting in Uvalde. Hear his comments by clicking here.

We also reached out to the Governor’s office on Wednesday, but have not yet received a response. When we do, we will keep you updated.