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Catholic Leaders Challenge “Pro-Life” Lawmakers on Gun Violence, NRA Ties

January 23, 2013, 11:47 am | Posted by Casey Schoeneberger

Catholic leaders – including retired U.S. Ambassadors to the Holy See from the Obama administration and the George H. W. Bush administration – are challenging pro-life Catholic lawmakers to “show greater moral leadership and political courage when it comes to confronting threats to the sanctity of life posed by easy access to military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines.”

“Members of Congress who take pride in their pro-life stance and appeal to family values have no excuse for inaction, and neither do any of us who share a firm commitment to these values,” the leaders write in a statement released today signed by more than 60 Catholic theologians, priests, Catholic sisters, justice advocates and retired officials from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “We especially encourage our fellow Catholics in Congress, including prominent leaders such as House Speaker John Boehner, to stand up to the National Rifle Association and other gun lobbyists who choose to obstruct sensible reforms. Catholics who earn an “A” rating from the NRA – including Republicans like Speaker Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic lawmakers such as Rep. Joe Donnelly and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp – should not put powerful special interests before the common good.”

Noting that thousands of Catholics will gather on Friday for the annual March for Life in Washington, DC to speak out against abortion, the Catholic leaders write that “our faith and our Church call us to remember, as we reflect on our most recent massacres, that the defense of human dignity extends beyond protecting life in the womb. Gun violence demeans human life and tears communities apart.”

Last week, the Vatican’s chief spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, complimented U.S religious leaders and the Obama administration for proposals “to limit firearms that are making society pay an unacceptable price in terms of massacres and senseless deaths.” “The initiatives announced by the American administration for limiting and controlling the spread and use of weapons are certainly a step in the right direction,” Lombardi said in an interview with Vatican Radio.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently renewed their call for measures to address gun violence by echoing a 2000 statement that advocates for “measures that control the sale and use of firearms” and “sensible regulations of handguns.”  In a Jan. 18 statement reacting to President Obama’s proposals to strengthen restrictions on assault weapons and ammunition, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., who chairs the U.S. bishops’ domestic justice and human development committee, said the bishops “hope that the steps taken by the administration will help to build a culture of life. The frequent mass shootings over the course of 2012 reflected a tragic devaluing of human life, but also pointed to the moral duty of all people to take steps to defend it.”

The full statement with signatories is below and here:

All Americans share responsibility for public safety. This requires reasonable measures to regulate the sale and use of lethal weapons. As faithful citizens  – Catholic theologians, priests, sisters and social justice advocates – we join our bishops, the Catholic Health Association and Catholic Charities USA in calling for common-sense reforms to address the epidemic of gun violence in our nation. Pro-life citizens and elected officials have a responsibility to show greater moral leadership and political courage when it comes to confronting threats to the sanctity of life posed by easy access to military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Members of Congress who take pride in their pro-life stance and appeal to family values have no excuse for inaction, and neither do any of us who share a firm commitment to these values.

We especially encourage our fellow Catholics in Congress, including prominent leaders such as House Speaker John Boehner, to stand up to the National Rifle Association and other gun lobbyists who choose to obstruct sensible reforms. Catholics who earn an “A” rating from the NRA – including Republicans like Speaker Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic lawmakers such as Rep. Joe Donnelly and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp – should not put powerful special interests before the common good. We urge you to reflect on the wisdom in our church’s call for a “consistent ethic of life” as you consider legislation in the coming months that can provide greater protection for our families and communities.

Thousands of Catholics will gather this week for the annual “March for Life” in Washington to speak out against the tragedy of abortion. Our faith and our Church call us to remember, as we reflect on our most recent massacres, that the defense of human dignity extends beyond protecting life in the womb. Gun violence demeans human life and tears communities apart. There have been more than 70 mass shootings since the January 8, 2011, massacre in Tucson, Arizona. More than 900 people have been killed with guns since the Newtown tragedy.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently renewed their call for measures to address gun violence by echoing their 2000 statement, Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice. Bishops have called for “measures that control the sale and use of firearms” and “sensible regulations of handguns.” The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in a 1994 document, “The International Arms Trade,” urges political leaders “to impose a strict control on the sale of handguns and small arms” and states that “limiting the purchase of such arms would certainly not infringe on the rights of anyone.”

All of us need to work against the glorification of violence, remedy our inadequate mental health services and address the breakdown of family support structures. No single law or set of regulations will prevent all tragedies, but the complexity of this urgent challenge must not be an excuse for protecting the status quo when it comes to regulating the sale and use of lethal weapons.

President Obama and Members of Congress can honor the memories of those killed in Newtown, Conn., and work to prevent future tragedies by acting now.

Signed,

Miguel H. Diaz, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See (retired)

Thomas P. Melady, U.S Ambassador to the Holy See, Uganda and Burundi (retired), President Emeritus, Sacred Heart University

Francis X. Doyle, Associate General Secretary, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (Retired)

Marie Dennis, Co-President, Pax Christi International

Rev. Bryan N. Massingale, Professor of Theological Ethics, Marquette University

Rev. John A. Coleman, S.J., Associate Pastor, St. Ignatius Parish, San Francisco

Rev. John Langan, SJ, Professor of Philosophy and Catholic Social Thought, Georgetown University

Rev. T. Michael McNulty, SJ, Marquette University, Jesuit Residence

Rev. Gerry Creedon, Holy Family Parish, Dale City, VA

Rev. Joseph Nangle, Our Lady Queen of Peace, Arlington, VA

Leadership Team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

Timothy Collins, Executive Director, Catholic Campaign for Human Development (Retired)

Tom Allio, Diocesan Social Action Director, Diocese of Cleveland (Retired)

Sister Florence Deacon, President, Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Sister Ann Scholz, Associate Director for Social Mission, Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Eli S. McCarthy, Director of Justice and Peace, Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Rev. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM. Chair of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, Directorate of the Franciscan Province of Holy Name

Rev. James E. Hug, S.J. President, Center of Concern, Washington, DC

Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director, NETWORK

Patrick Carolan, Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network

Sister Maria Riley, OP. Center of Concern

Nancy Dallavalle, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Department of Religious Studies, Fairfield University

John Inglis, Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy, Cross-appointed to Department of Religious Studies, University of Dayton

Tobias Winright, Associate Professor of Theological Ethics, Saint Louis University

David O’Brien, University Professor of Faith and Culture, University of Dayton

Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, Stillman Professor for Roman Catholic Theological Studies, Harvard Divinity School

Terrence W. Tilley, Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Professor of Catholic Theology and Chair, Theology Department, Fordham University, Bronx

Sandra Yocum, Associate Professor, Religious Studies, University of Dayton

Kristin E. Heyer, Bernard J. Hanley Professor, Religious Studies Department
Santa Clara University

Daniel Finn, Professor of Economics and Theology, St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN

Todd Whitmore, Associate Professor, Theology. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame

Mark J. Allman, Religious Theological Studies Department, Merrimack College

Susan Ross, Professor of Theology, University of Loyola (Chicago)

Nancy Sylvester, IHM, President, Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue
Detroit, MI

Mary Ann Hinsdale, IHM, Ph.D. Assoc. Prof. of Theology, Boston College

Kevin Ahern, Vice President for North America, Pax Romana-ICMICA

Vincent J. Miller, Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture, Department of Religious Studies, University of Dayton

Gerald J. Beyer, Associate Professor of Theology, Saint Joseph’s University

Alex Mikulich, Jesuit Social Research Institute, Loyola University New Orleans

Lisa Sowle Cahill, Professor of Theology, Boston College

James Salt, Executive Director, Catholics United

John Sniegocki, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Xavier University, Cincinnati

Rev. James Keenan SJ, Professor of Theology, Boston College

Rev. Drew Christiansen, SJ Editor, America Magazine (retired)

Christopher Pramuck, Associate Professor of Theology, Xavier University

Rev. Thomas J. Reese, S.J., Senior Fellow, Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University

Rev. David Hollenbach, University Chair in Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College

M. Shawn Copeland, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Boston College

Eugene McCarraher, Associate Professor of Humanities and History, Villanova University

Stephen J. Pope, Professor of Theology, Boston College

Paul Lakeland, Aloysius P. Kelly, S.J. Professor of Catholic Studies, Fairfield University

Richard Gaillardetz, Professor of Theology, Boston College

Daniel Speed Thompson, Chair of Department of Religious Studies, University of Dayton

A.J. Godzieba, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Villanova University

Una Cadegan, Associate Professor, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Dayton

Joseph A. McCartin, Director, Kamanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, Georgetown University

Sister Paulette Skiba, Professor of Religious Studies, Clarke University

Stephen F. Schneck, Director, Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, The Catholic University of America

Kathleen Maas Weigert, Assistant to the Provost for Social Justice Initiatives, Loyola University, Chicago

Anthony B. Smith, Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of Dayton

Bradford Hinze, Associate Chair for Graduate Studies, Theology Department, Fordham University (Bronx, NY)

Marian K. Diaz, University of Dayton

Joseph P. Fahey, Manhattan College, Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice

Dolores Christie, Ursuline College (retired)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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