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Gun Violence

Sadly, gun violence is too common a reality. Tragic events, such as the recent event in Newton, Connecticut and the violence that occurs daily in our homes and communities, should lead us to answer the call of Pope Francis to "change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace."

Letter to Congress, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, Chairman of the USCCB Committee, April 8, 2013

Peace results from that harmony built into human society by its divine founder, and actualized by men as they thirst after ever greater justice.

Gaudium et Spes (“The Church in the Modern World”), Vatican II, 1965 #78.


 

Most often it is the weak and unfortunate, the poor, the aged, the young, minorities and women who are forced to bear injustice.

Community and Crime, U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1978, 19.


 

Clearly some believe that a full commitment to nonviolence best reflects the Gospel commitment to peace. Others argue that such an approach ignores the reality of grave evil in the world and avoids the moral responsibility to actively resist and confront injustice with military force if other means fail. Both the just-war and nonviolent traditions offer significant moral insight, but continue to face difficult tests in a world marked by so much violence and injustice.

The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1993 Section IB.


 

Our age seems to seek quick and decisive solutions to difficult problems, to turn to violence rather than to embark on the painful and complicated search for less deadly, more lasting solutions which require sacrifice, patience and time…It is time to clearly recognize that in the end violence is not a solution, but more often the problem.

The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1993 Section IIIB.


 

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.

Confronting a Culture of Violence: A Catholic Framework for Action, U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1994.


 

We are still a long way from the time when our conscience can be certain of having done everything possibly to prevent crime and to control it effectively so that it no longer does harm… perhaps humanity as a whole could take a great step forward in creating a more serene and peaceful society.

Jubilee in Prisons, Pope John Paul II, July 9, 2000, #5.


 

Challenging the culture of violence and encouraging a culture of life. All of us must do more to end violence in the home and to find ways to help victims break out of the pattern of abuse. As bishops, we support measures that control the sale and use of firearms and make them safer (especially efforts that prevent their unsupervised use by children or anyone other than the owner), and we reiterate our call for sensible regulation of handguns.

Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), 2000.


 

We must advocate on behalf of those most vulnerable to crime (the young and the elderly), ensure community safety, and attack the leading contributors to crime, which include the breakdown of family life, poverty, the proliferation of handguns, drug and alcohol addiction, and the pervasive culture of violence. We should also encourage programs of restorative justice that focus on community healing and personal accountability.

Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), 2000.


 

The USCCB has also been a consistent advocate for peace and the prevention of gun and other forms of violence that strike at the life and dignity of persons.

Confronting Armed Violence and Promoting Peace, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Office of Domestic Social Development, February 2013.


 

Sadly, gun violence is too common a reality. Tragic events, such as the recent event in Newton, Connecticut and the violence that occurs daily in our homes and communities, should lead us to answer the call of Pope Francis to “change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace.”

Letter to Congress, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, Chairman of the USCCB Committee, April 8, 2013.


 

Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.

Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), Pope Francis, 2013, #52.

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