'Lord, keep this nation under your care.' Canadian church leaders urge prayer after Parliament shooting

Armed RCMP officers approach Parliament Hill following a shooting incident in Ottawa October 22, 2014REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Church leaders have called for prayer following the fatal shooting of a soldier at Canada's parliament yesterday.

"With all Canadians my heart is very heavy with the news of the killing of a Canadian soldier, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, while on honour guard duty at the National War Memorial in Ottawa today," said the Most Rev Fred Hiltz,
Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, in a statement.

"This follows all too soon on the killing of another member of the Canadian Armed Forces in Quebec, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, just days ago. I ask your prayers for these men, for their loved ones stricken with grief, and for the Canadian Armed Forces chaplains who are ministering to them. Pray also for the perpetrators of these awful attacks and for their families as well."

The Archbishop also asked for prayers for all those holding public office, and especially for those working for peace and reconciliation around the world.

"Now is a moment when the refrain of our national anthem, "O Canada, we stand on guard for thee" must echo in every heart," he concuded.

"Let our guarding be in the diligence of our prayer:

"Lord, keep this nation under your care,
and guide us in the way of justice and truth.
Let your way be known upon earth,
your saving health among all nations. Amen."

The President of Lutheran Church-Canada has also joined the call to prayer.

"This is truly tragic news," Robert Bugbee said yesterday. "We thank God for the service of our police officers, who prevented the gunman in Parliament from doing greater harm. And we ask that God guide the authorities as they seek additional suspects."

He continued: "I call on our churches around the nation to lift up the situation in Ottawa in prayer. May God grant courage to the people of Canada in this difficult time, and may the love of Christ be a source of comfort to us all."

A gunman fired shots near an Ottawa war memorial, killing 24-year-old Corporal Nathan Cirillo, before himself being shot fatally inside parliament.

Cirillo was the second Canadian solidier to be killed this week with a possible link to Islamic militants. US officials said they had been advised the dead gunman in Wednesday's shootings, identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was a Canadian convert to Islam.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that Canada will "never be intimidated" by terrorist activity.

"Let there be no misunderstanding. We will not be intimidated," he said following the shooting. "In fact this will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts - and those of our national security agencies - to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats and keep Canada safe here at home."

Canada announced this month it was joining the battle against Islamic State fighters who have taken over parts of Iraq and Syria, and Harper said the attack would prompt Canada to redouble its efforts to fight against "terrorist organizations" abroad.

The attacks in Ottawa and Quebec took place as the Canadian government prepared to boost the powers of its spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Public Safety Minister Stephen Blaney said last week the new legislation would let the agency track and investigate potential terrorists when they travel abroad and ultimately prosecute them.

US officials said there was no specific indication of a similar attack in the United States, a strong Canadian ally, but reinforced warnings to Americans to be alert.

(Additional reporting by Reuters)