Monday, December 12, 2016

What if Catholics Stood United Against All Violence?

Gun violence. Public executions and drive-by shootings of gang members and innocent by-standers. Premeditated massacres of school children, college students, co-workers, movie-goers, etc. A necessary corollary of the Second Amendment and an unavoidable consequence of protecting civil liberties, according to some.

How far would Catholics be willing to go to
address this pressing social and cultural issue?

Violence in utero. Private decisions of often vulnerable and isolated mothers. Premeditated termination of unborn human lives, and an emotionally searing experience for hundreds of thousands of women each year. A necessary corollary of Supreme Court decisions and protection of women's reproductive rights, according to some.

What are Catholics willing to do to help address
what Mother Teresa called this "greatest destroyer of peace"?

Some Catholics have taken the stance that "I'm personally opposed to abortion, but women have a right to choose...", and yet they often claim to be concerned about other forms of senseless suffering. Likewise, some Catholics have taken the stance that "I support the Constitution, and we're safer if people have a right to bear arms...", and yet they often claim to be concerned about the relentless attacks on human life before birth.

If Catholics stood united against all violence, couldn't a broad coalition of Catholic congressional leaders--and countless other persons of good will--build consensus for reasonable restrictions to both guns and abortions? Rather than vacuously repeating tired catch phrases about a "right to choose" and a "right to bear arms," Catholics could help lead a peace-building effort, one reasonable step at a time.

Faced with such a "cross-aisle" legislative effort, the Catholic faithful would be able to take a consistent and courageous step toward defending the fundamental principal of the Church's Social Teaching, namely, the dignity of the human person. Indeed, Catholics would have the opportunity to reclaim their primary identity as followers of the Prince of Peace, rather than as either liberals or conservatives.

A reasonable rationale challenges us to start acting differently.  There were no semi-automatic weapons when the Constitution was written, just as there was no 4-D ultrasound when Roe v. Wade was adjudicated. Technology has vastly expanded the killing capacity of modern-day weapons, just as it has made quantum leaps forward in identifying when life begins and supporting pre-born human life. Times have changed, and the issues have become much more clear.

Of course, such an effort would face virulent resistance from both the NRA and NARAL. Both the weapons industry and the abortion industry would lash out in defense of maintaining the status quo, by leveraging their political clout. Millions of dollars in donations would pour in for candidates who support business as usual. Simeon's prophetic words would seem to apply: "The thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (Lk 2:35)!

But Catholics can and should move forward as a post-partisan people. We can and should help our nation repent from its crimes against humanity--the exporting of both weapons and abortions globally. We can and should stand in solidarity with victims everywhere, without continuing the cycles of victimization.

Such consensus building might even pave the road for future coalitions against other forms of violence. For example: addressing both environmental violence and sexual violence; protecting the family both from senseless division via deportation and from capricious deconstruction via gender ideology (per Pope Francis).

Couldn't Catholics transform the culture,
by standing united in Christ? 

If we did so, wouldn't the words of Mary's Magnificat ring out anew: "He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones, but lifted up the lowly" (Lk 1:52)?!

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the the Americas, pray for us--