Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Francis-appointed cardinals march for immigration, gun control on Good Friday

April 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – On Good Friday, two Pope Francis-appointed cardinals participated in processions that focused on immigration and gun control.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey joined a walk “for justice, for immigrants, and for all.” Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich participated in a “peace walk” and praised anti-gun teenagers for giving “all of us a lesson in courage.” 


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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Bishops take to Twitter to back 'March for Our Lives'

Bishops take to Twitter to back ‘March for Our Lives’
In this March 14, 2018, file photo, Abbey Kadlec, left, and her classmates stand on the stairs and sidewalk of Lewis and Clark High School to protest gun violence, part of a nationwide movement, in Spokane, Wash. (Credit: Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review via AP.)
NEW YORK - As thousands marched on Washington and around the country in support of tighter gun control policies, a number of Catholic bishops took to social media to offer support for those participating in the events.

At a Mass for Peace, Justice, and Healing in Boston, Cardinal Sean O’Malley praised the young people of Parkland, Florida - the most recent school massacre, where 17 students and teachers were killed in February, and which set off a new wave of public activism in protest of gun violence. There was a school shooting in Maryland last week as well.

“The extraordinary role of the students from Parkland in focusing the country on this critical social problem should be a sign of hope for all of us. The manner by which the students have presented their case has already impacted the tone of the debate about guns and violence,” said O’Malley.

“They have helped us to realize that these tragedies victimize people from all walks of life, from every class and ethnicity. We owe these students and those who will join them today our support and our gratitude,” he said.

O’Malley acknowledged that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution affirms the right for citizens to bear arms, but added that all rights are subject to regulation.

Throughout the day on Saturday, he took to Twitter to offer commentary on gun violence and used the official hash tag for the event, #MarchforOurLives.

Meanwhile, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island - who is a new adaptor to Twitter, having only joined last month - posted the following message: “It seems to me that private citizens shouldn’t be permitted to own assault rifles any more than then they can own chemical weapons of mass destruction. How about a little common sense in this public debate?”

Tobin identifies on his Twitter bio as “ardently pro-life,” and in 2013 publicly announced he had switched his party affiliation from the Democratic party to join the Republicans over the issue of abortion.

In San Antonio, Texas, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller also weighed in on the March for Our Lives events, writing on Twitter: “What is a common factor in all those horrible killings in our country? Guns, bombs, arms. Let’s listen to the wisdom of our young people in Washington, Florida, throughout the US. Let’s listen to those affected directly by these crimes. We’ve not been able to solve it. Let’s listen!”

Garcia-Siller has frequently used Twitter to call for greater action on guns, especially following the shooting at a Texas church in Sutherland Springs in November 2017, which left 26 people dead and 20 others injured.

Cardinal Blase Cupich - who recently started his own initiative to end gun violence in Chicago - met with high school students from his archdiocese who were traveling to Washington on Friday to participate in the March on Saturday to offer a special blessing. He also posted on Twitter on Saturday that “I want to assure all our young people that “I am with you” and all those marching in Chicago and around the nation today to #EndGunViolence.”

RELATED: Students join March for Our Lives against gun violence, in racial solidarity

Meanwhile, Bishop Bill Wack of the diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, and one of the nation’s youngest Catholic bishops, applauded the young people marching against gun violence, drawing a comparison to the annual March for Life against abortion.

“It’s good to see so many young people raising their voices against gun violence, just as it is inspiring to see them at the March For Life every year. We must be pro-life in all of life’s beautiful forms and stages. God, give us the gift of peace,” he wrote on Twitter.

Earlier this month, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called on Congress to work together to find “concrete proposals” in response to the “crisis of gun violence.”
“We must explore ways to curb violent images and experiences with which we inundate our youth, and ensure that law enforcement have the necessary tools and incentives to identify troubled individuals and get them help,” they wrote.

The U.S. bishops have long advocated for a comprehensive approach to reducing gun violence that addresses mental illness without stigmatization, which they reiterated in their most recent statement.
They concluded their appeal by noting that in light of the Parkland massacre, it was time for action, instead of mere talk.

“In the words of St. John, ‘let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth,’” they wrote.

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

A day after March for Our Lives, Pope urges youth to speak out

Pope Francis blesses attendees and palm leaves during at St Peter's square on March 25, 2018

"Dear young people, you have it in you to shout," the Pope said in his Palm Sunday address at St. Peter's Square in Rome.
Pope Francis at the the end of Palm Sunday Mass in Vatican City

Palm Sunday -- celebrated on the Sunday before Easter -- is commemorated by Christians as the day Jesus entered Jerusalem in the week of his crucifixion, when palm leaves were strewn in his path. Noting that this Palm Sunday coincides with World Youth Day, the pontiff used the opportunity to compare youth to Jesus's followers, who were scorned by his detractors.

"It is up to you not to keep quiet," Pope Francis said. "Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders -- so often corrupt -- keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out?"

A day earlier, survivors of the shooting massacre at a Parkland, Florida high school led protests around the country and even abroad in favor of stricter gun control laws.
That followed the National School Walkout in mid-March, when thousands of students protesting gun violence left their classrooms for 17 minutes -- one for each of the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day.
In a message prepared in advance of World Youth Day, the Pope told young people: "Do not be afraid to face your fears honestly, to recognize them for what they are and to come to terms with them."

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Keep spirit of march going, Catholic college students urged

Keep spirit of march going, Catholic college students urged
A person reads information about gun violence during a panel discussion about gun policy analysis and citizen activism at Trinity Washington University March 23. The March for Our Lives protest against gun violence is scheduled for March 24 in the nation's capital. (Credit: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn.)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a standing-room-only lecture hall at Trinity Washington University March 23, a presenter asked for a show of hands for how many planned to attend the March for Our Lives the next day in Washington.


Most hands in the room went up and they also went up again for the next question: “How many know someone who died from gun violence?”


The hands weren’t raised quite as much for questions about how many in the room had done lobbying work, had written letters to the editor or called members of Congress about gun legislation. The presenters urged them to do so, that afternoon even, saying they should step up during this moment of heightened citizen activism.


“The march is great, but it doesn’t stop tomorrow; you have to keep marching,” said Vernon Scott, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Trinity Washington and moderator of a panel discussion on preventing gun violence - one of six presentations at the school’s teach-in on gun violence the day before the March for Our Lives.


Scott and the other panelists urged students to think about other things they could do to affect change with everything from voting, to addressing members of Congress or taking a stand on issues beyond just gun control.


One young woman in the audience said it’s hard to believe change can happen when you’ve seen so much firsthand. Her brother was shot and killed in 2004 and her husband was severely injured when he was shot two years ago. Her family won a lawsuit for her brother’s death, which wasn’t what they really wanted, and when her husband was shot, police questioned his lifestyle as if he had been to blame.


“I want to see a change,” she said after another woman in the audience said she saw someone get shot right in front of her. “Just like you’re in pain, I’m in pain too,” she said. “The reason we’re here”- talking about doing something to stop gun violence - “is because of your story. The more we push, the closer we’re going to get” to see things happen.


The overall sense from this panel was that change in gun laws and even treatment of mental illness was inevitable from the momentum that began with the Parkland, Florida, high school students who said, “Enough.” And history has shown that societal change, such as the civil rights movement, occurred because people stood up and fought for it.


“We’re at a tipping point,” said Sister Mary Johnson, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, and a professor of sociology and religious studies at Trinity.


She also urged students to be as involved as they could in this current moment addressing gun violence and said that no matter one’s religious beliefs, there is a role religion can play to bring about change. This crisis demands moral language, she said, where people speak up and say: “To take the life of another person is evil and can’t be allowed anymore.”

The panel discussion did not offer easy answers nor did the presenters indicate that change would be around the corner.

“This is lifelong work,” said one of the speakers, a Trinity graduate who works with the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

At the end of the hourlong session, Pat McGuire, president of Trinity, gave a mini pep talk of sorts to the students telling them never to be afraid or intimidated to call members of Congress.

“Their power comes from us; they work for us,” she said, encouraging students to “speak the truth to that power.”

Thursday, March 22, 2018

US Catholic sisters plan participation in March For Our Lives



Students at St. Mary's Dominican High School in New Orleans gather March 14 for 17 minutes to pray and remember the 17 students and faculty members killed in a Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, Florida. Students carried signs with the names of those who died, and the Hail Mary was recited after each name was read. The school is run by the Dominican Sisters of Peace. (Courtesy of the Dominican Sisters of Peace)

Thousands of people are expected to take part in the March For Our Lives event March 24 in Washington, D.C., and the more than 800 "sibling marches" planned worldwide. Hundreds of sisters will be among them.


The march is to demand that children be safe from gun violence in their schools.


"We have worked for years and years to support all sorts of efforts at much more comprehensive gun control at local and national levels and even internationally," said Eileen Harrington, a co-member of the Loretto Community and its mission activities coordinator. "But the problem of gun violence just continues to escalate."

Loretto sisters will participate in local marches, and Loretto volunteers will join the national march, she said.

And the community has another tool at its disposal: prayer.

"Several years ago, we really found ourselves at a loss for what else we could do beyond what we had been doing," Harrington said. "So we decided we needed to turn to prayer. We are, after all, a faith community."

At 9 a.m. on the first Monday of every month, the community — at the motherhouse, staff offices, Loretto-sponsored schools and everywhere Loretto community members live — stops and prays for an end to gun violence.

"Our community's mission is to work for justice and act for peace. Ending gun violence is one of our priority concerns," Harrington said in an email. "We remain resolute and hopeful that, as is the case with big change, something will shift in ways we could not predict or foresee, and we as a people will make progress. This is why we pray."



Students at St. Mary's Dominican High School in New Orleans March 14 (Courtesy of the Dominican Sisters of Peace)
In addition, the community's Franciscan Spirituality Center will host its annual Good Friday Justice and Peace Stations of the Cross, which this year will include a stop at a middle school to pray for racial harmony and an end to gun violence.

The Dominican Sisters of Peace encouraged their schools to take part in the events, including the March 14 school walkouts. The community's social justice team created a guide to help the schools plan and publicize their events and shared the guide with other Dominican congregations across the county, spokesperson Dee Holleran said in an email.

The students and staff at the congregation's Our Lady of the Elms Middle School and Upper School in Akron, Ohio, prayed March 14 for the 17 students and staff who lost their lives Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and were joined by sisters and associates in the Akron area.

A similar event was held at the St. Mary's Dominican High School in New Orleans, Holleran wrote, where 17 students carried handmade signs with the names of the victims, and a Hail Mary was recited after each name was read.

Dominican Sr. Barbara Kane, justice promoter for the community, said lawmakers need to work on behalf of citizens.

"We recognized in 2013 the importance of sensible gun safety legislation and concretized that belief with our Corporate Stance. Since that time close to 7,000 students have been killed in schools," Kane said in an email. "It's hard to understand why our legislators cannot pass legislation that would protect children and that the majority of Americans want enacted."

The Dominican Sisters in Committed Collaboration — which includes the Dominican congregations of Amityville, New York; Blauvelt, New York; Caldwell, New Jersey; Ossining, New York; Maryknoll, New York; and Sparkill, New York — will have sisters taking part in several marches and have rolled out a national postcard campaign calling on elected officials to enact gun control measures, Sr. Didi Madden wrote in an email.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace in Seattle will take part in the march there, but those in New Jersey who have a regional assembly scheduled for that date are showing their support by making a $500 donation to the march in Newark, New Jersey.

The Franciscan Sisters of Clinton, Iowa, will take part in their local march, and the Felician Sisters plan to take part in the local marches where they are located, too.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious issued a statement Feb. 23, calling the Feb. 14 shooting at a high school in Florida that left 17 dead and another 17 wounded "a horrible tragedy that has become all too familiar to students, teachers, and parents across the country."

The statement called for mandatory background checks and waiting periods for all gun purchases, banning civilian ownership of high-capacity weapons and magazines, and for gun trafficking to be a federal crime.

"Where is the outrage? Have we become immune to the horror? Why are elected officials unwilling to confront the epidemic of gun violence that is sweeping the nation? When will the killing stop?" the statement reads. "Prayers and condolences are not enough. The killing must stop. It is well past time that we enacted sensible gun violence prevention legislation. This is not about protecting the second amendment. It is about protecting the most precious resource we have, the gift of life."
The organization, which represents about 80 percent of the sisters in the United States, urged members to participate in the March 24 events in solidarity with the students of Parkland, who have called for an end to gun violence.

"We will walk with you as together we seek to put an end to violence and follow the path of peace," the statement said. "In this Lenten season as we recall the life Jesus, the Christ, let us pray for the grace to embrace his way of nonviolence and let us never doubt that the deep darkness of these days will be overcome by the radiant light of our lives and actions lived in love."

Thursday, March 15, 2018

St. Louis archbishop, a longtime hunter, supports gun control

This article appears in the Gun Violence feature series. View the full series.



St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson at an Interfaith Prayer Service for Peace and Solidarity at Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis in September 2017 (CNS photo/Teak Phillips, St. Louis Review)

For years, the U.S. bishops have pushed for gun control, most recently in a statement in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. They have promoted a ban on assault weapons, limitations on the purchase of handguns, and safety measures, such as locks that prevent children and anyone other than the owner from using guns without permission.

At least one prominent Catholic hunter agrees with them.
St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson is among the few bishops who know what it's like to shoot a gun, with hunting experience dating back to the time he served as bishop for the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, diocese from 1995 to 2004.

"I agree with raising the age for purchasing firearms," he told NCR during a phone interview, describing one measure promoted by students in Parkland, who convinced the Florida legislature and governor to do that after the Feb. 14 killing of 17 students and teachers. Carlson also said there is no reason for anyone to own an assault weapon like the kind used in the recent Florida school shooting.



St. Louis has a serious violent crime problem, and last year recorded 205 murders in the city with a population of slightly more than 300,000. By contrast, New York, with a population of more than eight million, recorded fewer than 300 murders that year. Carlson has spoken out against the rash of street violence with other St. Louis religious leaders.

But hunting is a different issue entirely, he said, noting that those who hunt responsibly are not part of the spike in gun violence.
Ordained in his native St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, archdiocese in 1970, Carlson first began hunting soon after being named bishop of Sioux Falls. He came to St. Louis in 2009, after serving as bishop of Saginaw, Michigan.

While hunting, he uses a 20-gauge shotgun, which fires shells to kill pheasants, not regular bullets. Each year while bishop of Sioux Falls, he participated in a charity fundraising hunting trip with diocesan priests in South Dakota. Since coming to the more urban St. Louis area, he has hunted only twice in 10 years. The pheasant are not so plentiful in Missouri, he said.

Serious hunters have a credo that, Carlson said, he tries to follow: "You never hunt for anything you are not willing to eat." Carlson will give away his excess meat to convents. He said the best part of hunting is to watch the work of the trained dogs.

Besides gun control measures, the scourge of violence needs to be combatted by preventing violence in families, and, reiterating a favorite phrase of bishops, Carlson said that the dignity of each human person needs to be respected. In response, he has spoken in favor of extending citizenship rights to Dreamer students, the children of immigrants born in this country, and recently urged his priests to speak against racism on the first Sunday of Lent this year.
"All has to be part of the national debate," he told NCR. "We have to listen to one another and not just be thinking about what we are going to say next."

[Peter Feuerherd is a correspondent for NCR's Field Hospital series on parish life and is a professor of journalism at St. John's University, New York.]

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

200 Catholic schools to participate in anti-gun protest

Chicago students planning to join national walkout on gun safety

Chicago

On. Feb. 14, 2018, students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, after a shooter opened fire on the campus. | Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, file photo

Students all over Chicago and in many of its suburbs will walk out of class Wednesday, adding their voices to a national effort aimed at halting shootings in schools.


Kids and their teachers throughout Chicago Public Schools plan to step outside mid-morning for 17 minutes — one minute for each of the people gunned down inside a Parkland, Florida, high school last month. Student activism following that deadly shooting spree by a former student with a semi-automatic long rifle has sparked a national conversation about gun control.

The walkouts appear to have CPS’ tacit approval. Though CPS principals aren’t supposed to be involved, class schedules at some high schools are being moved around to accommodate the walkouts. District officials distributed a resource guide for teachers, and at the last Board of Education meeting, CEO Janice Jackson referred to this “crucial moment in our country,” saying, “I want to make sure our students have an opportunity to express themselves and engage thoughtfully in this national dialogue… Educators and students will decide what’s right for their school community, and as a district we are committed to supporting them.”

Some 200 Catholic schools in Cook and Lake counties also will participate in peace-building activities — with 80,000 students assembling in prayer, staging discussions and making signs promoting peace that they’ll hang around schools and parish properties, according to the Archdiocese of Chicago.

“With the recent tragedy in Parkland, Florida and the daily violence we experience in our city, we believe this is a time to come together and work as a community of Catholic schools to help achieve a lasting peace,” a spokeswoman said.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Bob Brehl: Hope arises in U.S. gun laws debate

Almost every day there are articles in these Catholic periodicals hitting their followers over the head with anti-gun propaganda. The enemy of freedom is the Catholic cult! Always has been. Over 20 years I've studied this issue. World-wide, from their inception, they HATE freedoms of the people. They HATE constitutional Republics. They will have it the Pope's way, only! "The ends justifies the means" they say... So you can believe that many, maybe ALL of these mass shootings are false flags to try and convince Americans that guns are bad! Everyone needs to study these things are expose them the best you can. Commenting on articles helps. Whatever you can do... Article:

"Bob Brehl: Hope arises in U.S. gun laws debate"

  • March 8, 2018-   Article  SOURCE
Nothing changed after 20 very young children were slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., five years ago.
When the senseless deaths of 17 six-year-olds and three seven-year-olds (and six educators trying to protect them) couldn’t bring sanity to the U.S. gun laws debate, it looked like absolutely nothing would.

That shooting occurred Dec. 14, 2012 and even during the Christmas season no laws were passed to increase the age for purchasing semi-automatic weapons to the same age as buying a beer. A person deemed a terrorist threat and placed on the “no fly” list can still go buy weapons of mass domestic destruction. Federal law still does not require background checks for “private transactions,” like sales at gun shows.

Lawmakers couldn’t agree on any positive changes. As they always do, politicians — especially those funded by the National Rifle Association (NRA) — simply call for prayer and say the Second Amendment must be upheld, even if some solutions have nothing at all to do with the right to bear arms.

But today, on the heels of the Valentine’s massacre of 17 Florida high school students, there are real, tangible signs of hope.

So, what makes the Parkland shooting different? After all, since Sandy Hook there have been more than 1,500 mass shootings in the U.S.

There now appears to be three main catalysts for change, with the age of the victims being the most important. The other two would be the power of the buck and the ego of the President.

Sensing a swing in public opinion, giant retailers like Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods have announced they will sell guns and ammunition only to those 21 years of age or older.

Wall Street is also applying pressure. BlackRock, the world’s largest money manager, announced it will offer clients the ability to opt out of investing in gun manufacturers. Others in the financial sector like Blackstone, State Street and Bank of America have announced they’re re-examining their relationships with gunmakers, too.

More than two dozen companies, including Delta, United Airlines, MetLife and Hertz, have stopped offering special discounts to NRA members.

Then there’s President Donald Trump. He has already said he will issue an executive order to ban bump stocks, devices that turn semi-automatic rifles into machine guns.


He also held an hour-long session with members of Congress at the White House and invited TV cameras. And he embraced a series of gun-control measures that his Republican party has long rejected. Theatrics or not, his comments offer hope.

At one point, he chastised politicians for being “too afraid” of the NRA, which contributed several million dollars to his 2016 presidential campaign. Trump boasted that the NRA is on board with some gun control measures.

While the NRA might hold sway over some lawmakers, Trump said, it has less power over him.

Trump’s ego is enormous and a case can be made that if he can slay the mass shootings menace in the U.S., it could be his historical legacy, like civil rights for Lyndon Johnson and winning the Cold War for Ronald Reagan.

In the last 50 years, more Americans have died on home soil from domestic guns than all Americans have died in all the wars the country has fought. Regardless of his motivation, Trump appears to be moving to the right side of the debate.

And the final catalyst for change — the age of the victims, or more precisely the age of the survivors.
The ages of children at Sandy Hook was heart-wrenching and dumbfounding. But parents had to carry the fight and be the victims’ voices to prevent them dying in vain.

Surviving six- and seven-year-olds couldn’t do it. Think about it. The children who survived Sandy Hook are right now five years younger than those who survived in Florida.

Teenagers can organize marches, boycotts and social media campaigns. They can demand change, which they are doing now. They are telling politicians that their thoughts and prayers are not enough, that it’s time for action.


They’ve been attacked as “crisis actors” by the gun lobby, and I hope these young people continue to be underestimated by those folks.

During the early 1960s civil rights movement, children in Alabama defied parents, teachers and even police to march against segregation. They had fire hoses turned on them for goodness sake. And their crusade helped to change history.

And today’s teen crusade is picking up momentum. A national Quinnipiac University poll found that 97 per cent of Americans support universal background checks for firearms purchasers. Sixty-seven per cent of respondents favour banning assault weapons.

Some of these high school students will be voting this November in mid-term elections and all of them will be old enough to vote in 2020. So much can be done without impacting the Second Amendment and these teenagers are not going to give up without meaningful change.

That’s why common sense is returning to the gun debate and hope is the highest in years.

(Brehl is a writer and author of several books.)



Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Bishops call for ‘common-sense gun measures’ after Florida school shooting

Demonstrators from Teens for Gun Reform, an organization of students in the Washington DC area created in the wake of February's school shooting in Parkland, Fla. Credit: Lorie Shaull/CNA
Demonstrators from Teens for Gun Reform, an organization of students in the Washington DC area created in the wake of February's school shooting in Parkland, Fla. Credit: Lorie Shaull/CNA

.- In the aftermath of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. that killed 17 people, two US bishops have issued a joint statement calling for “common-sense gun measures” and dialogue about specific proposals that will reduce gun violence and ensure school safety.

"Once again, we are confronted with grave evil, the murder of our dear children and those who teach them. Our prayers continue for those who have died, and those suffering with injuries and unimaginable grief. We also continue our decades-long advocacy for common-sense gun measures as part of a comprehensive approach to the reduction of violence in society and the protection of life,” the statement said.

The statement was issued by Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla., chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice, and  Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education.

The bishops said the idea of arming teachers “seems to raise more concerns than it addresses.” Rather, the bishops said “concepts that appear to offer more promise” would include “an appropriate minimum age for gun ownership,” universal background checks, and the banning of certain gun accessories, such bump stocks.

Previously, the USCCB has voiced support for several gun control measures, among them a ban on assault weapons, limits to high-capacity magazines, additional penalties for gun trafficking, as well as restrictions on who can purchase handguns. The USCCB is also in favor of child safety locks that prevent children from using guns.

The bishops also noted that violent images “inundate our youth.”

“We must explore ways to curb” these images, they said.

The bishops also pointed out that while the vast majority of people with mental health conditions are not violent, mental illness has played a role in many mass shootings. “We must look to increase resources and seek earlier interventions,” they said.

The Parkland shooter’s lawyers say that he has mental illness and “brain development issues.”
Since the shooting in Parkland, some Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students have become public advocates for increased gun control measures. The USCCB praised these students, saying that “the voices of these advocates should ring in our ears as they describe the peaceful future to which they aspire.”

US bishops back assault weapons ban, are leery of arming teachers

This article appears in the Gun Violence feature series. View the full series.

20180215T1522-14670-CNS-BISHOPS-GUN-VIOLENCE-EXPERIENCE

A salesman clears the chamber of an AR-15 in 2016 at a gun store in Provo, Utah (CNS/Reuters/George Frey)
A salesman clears the chamber of an AR-15 in 2016 at a gun store in Provo, Utah (CNS/Reuters/George Frey)
The U.S. bishops' conference entered its voice Monday into the nation's latest gun reform debate, renewing past support for gun control measures like an assault weapons ban and universal background checks while expressing concern with the idea of arming teachers as a deterrent of future shootings.
"Once again, we are confronted with grave evil, the murder of our dear children and those who teach them," said Bishop Frank Dewane and Bishop George Murry, chairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and on Catholic Education, respectively, in a statement referencing the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The two committee chairmen offered prayers for those who died and "those suffering with injuries and unimaginable grief," while also reasserting the bishops' "decades-long advocacy for common-sense gun measures as part of a comprehensive approach to the reduction of violence in society and the protection of life."

"This moment calls for an honest and practical dialogue around a series of concrete proposals — not partisanship and overheated rhetoric," said Dewane, bishop of Venice, Florida, and Murry, bishop of Youngstown, Ohio.

In that vein, they reasserted the Catholic bishops long-held support for a federal ban on assault weapons, and limiting access to certain handguns and to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines.

The bishops also pushed against the idea of placing armed, trained teachers or other professionals into schools as a means to deter a shooter — a concept that President Donald Trump has repeatedly advocated in the aftermath of the Stoneman Douglas massacre.

"The idea of arming teachers seems to raise more concerns than it addresses," the bishops said.
Instead, they said "concepts that appear to offer more promise" include requiring universal background checks, banning "bump stocks" and "setting a more appropriate minimum age for gun ownership."

Legislation addressing bump stocks and background checks has been introduced in Congress, though no bill has gained much momentum. A bill introduced earlier Monday by a bipartisan group of eight senators, including both senators from Florida, would require federal agencies to report to state law enforcement within 24 hours individuals who try to buy a gun but fail a background check. A previous version of the bill was proposed in the House of Representatives in January 2016.
The bishops also called for increased safety measures for storing guns and more steps to criminalize gun trafficking. They stressed that while most people with a mental illness rarely commit violent acts, there is a need to increase mental health resources as well as implement earlier intervention strategies.

"We must explore ways to curb violent images and experiences with which we inundate our youth, and ensure that law enforcement have the necessary tools and incentives to identify troubled individuals and get them help," the committee chairmen said.
The statement from the U.S. bishops' conference joins multiple other calls from Catholics in the 19 days since the Valentine's Day mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas, where a former student armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle killed 14 students and three school officials.
But it's been Stoneman Douglas students, as well as other teens, including from Catholic schools, who have taken on a central role in the national discussion on how to prevent future mass shootings and curb gun violence in America.

Over the weekend, students from St. Sabina Academy in Chicago — a city that has faced its own issues with gun-related homicides — met in Florida with Stoneman Douglas students to discuss ideas to address gun violence.

In an effort to keep the gun debate from dissipating, as it has following past mass shootings, the students have planned a "March for Our Lives" in Washington, D.C., and other cities nationwide on March 24. School walkouts have also been planned for March 14 and April 20, the latter the anniversary of the 1999 school shooting that killed 13 students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.
"The advocacy by survivors of the Parkland shooting — and young people throughout our nation — is a stark reminder that guns pose an enormous danger to the innocent when they fall into the wrong hands," the bishops said in their statement. "The voices of these advocates should ring in our ears as they describe the peaceful future to which they aspire."

"We must always remember what is at stake as we take actions to safeguard our communities and honor human life," they said. "In the words of St. John, 'let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.'"

[Brian Roewe is an NCR staff writer. His email address is broewe@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianRoewe.]

In This Series

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Trump: 'Take the Guns First, Go Through Due Process Second', tells lawmakers not to fear NRA



Source: https://reason.com/blog/2018/02/28/trump-take-the-guns-first-go-through-due
President Donald Trump, who campaigned as a defender of gun rights, told a bipartisan group of politicians today that authorities should have simply taken away Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz's weapons:
"The police saw that he was a problem, they didn't take any guns away. Now, that could've been policing. They should've taken them away anyway, whether they had the right or not."
"I like taking the guns early, like in this crazy man's case that just took place in Florida ... to go to court would have taken a long time," Trump emphasized. And he said this:
"Take the guns first, go through due process second."
This comes from a president who only a few weeks ago wondered aloud on Twitter, "Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?":



Here's the reaction of longtime gun-control supporter Sen. Dianne Feinstein to Trump's suggestion that an "assault weapons" ban be added to legislation from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that would expand background checks:



Is this truly a Nixon-Goes-To-China moment, in which the Republican Trump, who also said today that he "loves the Second Amendment," will restrict gun ownership more than any president since Bill Clinton signed the assault-weapons ban into law in 1994? That remains to be seen, as Trump has double-reversed course in the past, such as when he agreed to legalize "Dreamers" in a deal with Democratic lawmakers before changing his mind. In the meantime, Trump's criticism of the NRA and embrace of gun control is leaving progressives as bewildered as it is making conservatives angry as hell:



Saturday, February 24, 2018

Latest Articles of the Catholic cult pushing for banning privately owned firearms

This they do while there are currently thousands of instances of child-rape by these same cultists calling for banning guns... It's not about safety of children in other words, it's about turning us all into helpless slaves... then the injustices will REALLY start in this country... we haven't seen anything yet... The Cult in Rome HATES any and all civil rights... they have ALWAYS hated the US Constitution. That is why they have destroyed Free Speech, Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Religion and they are working hard on repealing the 2nd Amendment Right to bear Arms...

Growing student activism on gun violence presses lawmakers to act

22. Echoing the long-standing position of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Wenski said “reasonable” gun control was necessary to prevent firearms from getting into the wrong hands. “The church has been engaged on this issue of gun control for a good amount of time,” he said.









Growing student activism on gun violence presses lawmakers to act
22. Echoing the long-standing position of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Wenski said “reasonable” gun control was necessary to prevent firearms from getting into the wrong hands. “The church has been engaged on this issue of gun control for a good amount of time,” he said.









Religious Offerings: 2/24
Father James Bacik offers his take on gun control on March 4. In “Gun Control: A Christian Perspective,” the retired Catholic priest and theologian “will examine the current emotionally charged debate on gun control from the perspective of Christian responsibility to care for victims, to humanize our ...









Can the new push for gun control change the way (and whether) guns are stored in the home?
"Some schools did a prayer service and some did prayers," Kim Pryzbylski, archdiocesan superintendent of schools, told Catholic News Service. "Some students were talking about leaving campus and going different places. We didn't want that to happen. We thought it would be more meaningful to do it ...











US Bishops Declare 'National Call-In Day for Dreamers'
WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - The U.S. bishops are proclaiming February 26, National Catholic Call-In Day to Protect Dreamers, after .... social justice issues like health care, gun control, climate change and tax reform, sometimes reserving their harshest criticism of Trump for these other issues.









WEB

On the Morality of Gun Control
Father Jerry J. Pokorsky: Some wish to see gun control and abortion as related issues. That's a mistake. Guns are not intrinsically evil; abortion is.






Friday, February 23, 2018

What St. John XXIII has to say about gun rights


"...the Catholic moral tradition emphasizes how such defense is primarily the responsibility of legitimate authorities—namely, the police and the military."



A cross in a Parkland, Fla., park, put up of Feb. 16 to commemorate the victims of the Feb. 14 shooting at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left at least 17 people dead.  (CNS photo/Carlos Garcia Rawlins, Reuters) 


In the wake of repeated mass shootings, most recently at a school in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, many of us are asking what resources are available to educators to address questions of gun violence and gun control. In my experience teaching social ethics, I have found that Pope John XXIII’s social encyclical “Pacem in Terris” generates important insights that are relevant to the current debate. The encyclical reminds us that in our public discourse around guns, we talk a great deal about rights and not enough nearly enough about duties.

In Part I of “Pacem in Terris,” John XXIII writes that “every human being is a person; that is, [human] nature is endowed with intelligence and free will.” Because of this, every person has rights and obligations that flow from his or her very nature, and “as these rights and obligations are universal and inviolable, so they cannot in any way be surrendered” (No. 9). Accordingly, the pope enumerates several human rights (the right to life, bodily integrity, an ability to practice religion privately and publicly, emigration and immigration, and more), while also listing several human obligations that correlate with these rights. For the pope, “the right of every [person] to life is correlative with the duty to preserve it”; so, too, “[the] right to investigate the truth freely” correlates with “the duty of seeking it ever more completely and profoundly” (No. 29).


In our public discourse around guns, we talk a great deal about rights and not enough nearly enough about duties.

In the wake of the shooting in Parkland, intense public debate has occurred about whether guns ought to be regulated in order to diminish the likelihood that such atrocities will happen again. Many citizens and groups such as the National Rifle Association oppose any proposals that they say could threaten the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

As noted above, “Pacem in Terris” highlights every person’s right to life and every person’s duty to preserve life; however, unlike the Second Amendment, there is no explicit mention of a right to keep and bear arms. According to the Catholic moral tradition, individuals may legitimately defend themselves and other innocent persons against unjust attack—that is, if we follow the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas rather than St. Augustine, who prohibited self-defense but justified defense of others. Such a right to life and its corresponding duty to protect life may encompass the ability to own certain appropriate weapons such as firearms, but the Catholic moral tradition emphasizes how such defense is primarily the responsibility of legitimate authorities—namely, the police and the military. For example, the only time I ever owned firearms was while working in law enforcement in both corrections and policing.


Cardinal Timothy Dolan: “Regulating and controlling guns is part of building a Culture of Life, of doing what we can to protect and defend human life.”

In its focus on the right to life and the duty to defend life—rather than on a right to keep and bear arms—perhaps “Pacem in Terris” allows us to ask: What if it is the easy availability of guns that poses a threat to innocent lives? Don’t we have a duty to defend life by regulating guns? As Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, put it in his 2013 message, “Advocating for Gun Control”: “regulating and controlling guns is part of building a Culture of Life, of doing what we can to protect and defend human life.”

The current gun control debate illustrates what David Hollenbach, S.J., has referred to as claims in conflict. Father Hollenbach observes that our clarity around “rights vocabulary is far from being matched by our understanding of what human rights are, how they are interrelated, how they are limited by each other, and whether they can ever be subordinated to other social values.”

So goes the current debate: the right to life versus the right to guns. While the N.R.A. defends the latter as an absolute right, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops views gun control legislation as a right to life issue. In the U.S. bishops’ testimony submitted for the record before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 12, 2013, the bishops’ 1994 pastoral message, “Confronting a Culture of Violence: A Catholic Framework for Action,” is quoted: “We have an obligation to respond. Violence—in our homes, our schools and streets, our nation and world—is destroying the lives, dignity and hopes of millions of our sisters and brothers.”

Again, in 2000, the U.S. bishops issued “Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice,” calling on Americans to build a culture of life and to end violence in society. The bishops recommended:
  • Requiring universal background checks for all gun purchases;
  • Limiting civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines;
  • Making gun trafficking a federal crime;
  • Improving access to mental health care for those who may be prone to violence.
These seem fair to me. The editors of America went even further on Feb. 25, 2013, by calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment. I don’t see that happening—or lasting. Still, given what “Pacem in Terris” emphasizes about the human responsibilities that accompany human rights, we still need to ask the questions: “In our time, is a given constitutional provision a good law or a bad law? Does it promote the common good?” We Americans, Catholics included, need to engage in more public conversation along these lines with regard to gun regulations.

Editors’ note: This article builds on an essay first published on April 11, 2013, on the Catholic Moral Theology” website.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

U.S. students turn to gun-control group after school shooting


NEW YORK (Reuters) - When they got prayers and thoughts from U.S. lawmakers after a massacre at a Florida high school that left 17 students and teachers dead, thousands of young people turned to the country’s largest gun-control advocacy group to learn how to make their voices heard. 


Students flooded Everytown for Gun Safety with calls after last week’s Florida school massacre, prompting the creation of its first student branch, the group said on Wednesday.

“We can do social media like no one else,” said Sophie Herrmann, 18, a senior seeking to start a Students Demand Action group at Benilde-St. Margaret‘s, a Catholic high school in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. “We are ready to take on the fight.”

On Feb. 14, a gunman killed 17 people at a Parkland, Florida high school, the latest in a long series of deadly U.S. school shootings, stirring the nation’s long-running debate about gun rights and public safety.

Survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have emerged as the new faces of the gun-control movement and marched on the state capital of Tallahassee on Wednesday to call for a ban on assault-style weapons.
The youth-led protest movement has rallied around the #NeverAgain slogan, attracted prominent celebrity supporters and plans a rally in Washington on March 24.

They are a generation born into a world where schools routinely practice active shooter drills by having students lock the classroom door and hide out of sight to try to prevent another massacre like the 1999 shooting in Columbine, Colorado that killed 13 or the massacre in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut that left 26 dead.

The new “Students Demand Action” branch is expected to try to lift a ban on government research into gun violence, get out the notoriously absent youth vote and even run for elected office themselves.

Students Demand Action is set to hold its first-ever nationwide organizing call on Wednesday evening, and participants anticipate the high school and college student groups will take a different tact from their elders to stop gun violence.

Students will likely push to restore federal funding for scientific studies of firearms-injury prevention, which has been choked off since 1996 by the so-called Dickey Amendment.

It was sponsored by Jay Dickey, an Arkansas Republican who described himself as the National Rifle Association’s “point person in Congress," after government researchers reported that people who kept guns in their homes faced a nearly three-fold greater risk of homicide and a nearly five-fold greater risk of suicide. (reut.rs/2sLHKC8)

Millennials are far less likely than Baby Boomers to vote in mid-term elections in November, so another expected focus of the student group will be getting young voters to the polls, said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, part of Everytown, a 4 million member organization funded by billionaire businessman and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.


“Not only getting out the vote but registering new voters. Something like 4 million Americans will turn 18 before mid-term elections,” Watts said. “They are chomping at the bit to vote on this issue.”

And, if no candidate emerges to challenge an incumbent beholden to the National Rifle Association, members of Students Demand Action will likely be trained by Everytown to run for elected office themselves, both Watts and Herrmann said.

“We are ready. If Congress isn’t going to fight for common sense gun remedies, then let us take those spots,” Herrmann said.