As Catholics who are committed to understanding the relationship between the Catholic social ethic and the most pressing and timely issues in American society, we applaud National Catholic Reporter’s series dedicated to coverage of the gun violence crisis. We write to call on American Catholics, the clergy and the lay, to consider this issue – whatever their intuitions may already… Read more →
MSN reported last week that an arms maker in Florida is now marketing a Christian-themed gun.  The “Cruzado” is inscribed with the cross of the Knights Templar, a religious order that fought in the Crusades, along with an Old Testament psalm. A company spokesman reported that the company sold out of the rifles in the first 72 hours,… Read more →
More than the fire hoses and the police dogs of Bull Connors (Chief of Police of Birmingham, AL), I fear the silence of the churches. The contemporary church is so often a weak, ineffective voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status-quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and vocal sanction of things as they are. But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the 20th century. I am meeting young people everyday (sic) whose disappointment with the church has risen to outright disgust.”
– Martin Luther King, Letters From a Birmingham Jail, 12
As Catholics and as American citizens, we have both the privilege and the obligation to participate in the democratic process in a way which reflects our spiritual values. In an increasingly complex world, our obligation to educate and inform the conscience remains primary. We look to both Scripture and to Tradition on issues such as poverty, war, social justice, marriage and family, immigration,… Read more →
“Our problems can only be solved by people of character who actively and without apology take their beliefs into public debate. That includes Catholics. We need to be stronger in our public witness, not weaker.” Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Render Unto Caesar – Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life Read more →
The key federal decision interpreting the Second Amendment is District of Columbia v. Heller¹. In it, the Supreme Court struck down Washington D.C. laws prohibiting handgun possession and requiring that firearms in the home be stored unloaded and disassembled or locked at all times. The Court held for the first time that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to… Read more →
Summary of Gun Violence Statistics in America ¹ Although mass shootings receive the most media attention, over 100,000 people are victims of a gunshot wounds every year, and of these, 30,000 are killed. In 2010, firearms killed 31, 672 people in the U.S., including 11,078 homicides, 19, 392 suicides, and 606 unintentional firearm deaths. In 2011, guns were used to… Read more →
” It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It is that they can’t see the problem.” Gilbert K. Chesterton
Testimony Submitted for the Record on Behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary – “Proposals to Reduce Gun Violence Protecting Our Communities While Respecting the Second Amendment“ February 12, 2013 Excerpts from the testimony: … “The tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, as well as many… Read more →
The first reading for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time is from the Book of Samuel:
Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was. The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.” Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.”
“I did not call you,” Eli said. “Go back to sleep.” So he went back to sleep.
Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli. “Here I am,” he said. “You called me.” but Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.”
At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet. The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am. You called me.” Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, “Speak LORD, for your servant is listening.” When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.
1 Samuel 3: 3-10, 19; Translation by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
What is God trying to tell us here? As lay people, should we be asking ourselves how many times we let fear, misunderstanding, and prejudice get in the way of hearing the voice of God? Does our sincere desire to provide for and protect our families blind us to the violence that affects the most vulnerable members of our communities? Do we neglect opportunities to quiet the noise around us, to hear the stirrings of our souls? Do we let inertia drag us down, make us feel powerless and hopeless?
As clergy, do we let apprehension box us in? Do we allow our fear of losing yet more church-goers dictate our teaching? Do we avoid speaking sincerely and from the heart because we might offend ? Do we revert to the mundane and the tried and true, never risking, but never really speaking? Are we letting our word be “without effect,” wasting precious opportunities to actually renew the face of the earth?
Are we, like Samuel, asleep? How many times must we be called?