The following is excerpted from the Deseret News. To read the full report, CLICK HERE.
Heartbreak and confusion have spread across the United States in the past month after more than two dozen lives were lost to gun violence in Buffalo, New York; Uvalde, Texas; and Tulsa, Oklahoma. Americans are mourning the loss of loved ones and neighbors as they wonder how best to speak up and become a catalyst for change.
On June 8, Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life brought together a group of Catholic leaders for a virtual panel and asked them to offer their wisdom to a broken country that’s unsure of what to do next. They discussed what people of faith can bring to ongoing debates.
One of the speakers was the archbishop of San Antonio, the Rev. Gustavo Garcìa-Siller, who served as a sort of spiritual first responder after the school shooting in Uvalde. He described what he encountered in the community and, specifically, what he witnessed in the hospital.
“I was able to see suffering, pain, a kind of numbness proper for a ‘shock’ experience, and a lot of tears,” the archbishop said, noting that he and other Catholic leaders did their best to provide support and a comforting presence.
The Rev. Garcìa-Siller said the best place to start when working to bring about change is to hold onto your empathy.
“One problem I see … is that still everything is looked at by politics. When it’s just that lens, people don’t matter,” he said. “Guns have been idols … and with these same, sacred arms, we kill people. … The person, the people. They must come first.”
Rhina Guidos, a reporter and editor for Catholic News Service, was also a member of the panel. Specifically assigned to follow the shootings in Buffalo, Uvalde, and Tulsa, Guidos said her experience showed her the importance of self-awareness when advocating for others.
“How am I looking at this? How is my decision affecting the life of another person?” Guidos asked. “We need to look deep within ourselves, but I don’t think we are. We’re reacting more, and not listening.”
But Guidos also noted that, for some time now, the Catholic Church has been actively listening to the concerns of its members.
“Sometimes, I think there’s a reaction that (church leadership) doesn’t want to listen, but people will be surprised to find out that (church leadership) actually backs a lot of gun control,” she said.
Many members of church leadership have publicly denounced recent incidents of gun violence, Guidos noted. For example, Cardinal Blase Cupich, who leads the Archdiocese of Chicago, shared on Twitter that, “The Second Amendment did not come down from Sinai. The right to bear arms will never be more important than human life. Our children have rights, too. And our elected officials have a moral duty to protect them.”
To read the full report, CLICK HERE.