June 16, 2022

Archbishop issues statement on gun violence

(En Espanol)

Archbishop Charles C. ThompsonIn recent weeks, incidents of brutal, senseless killing in the U.S. have increased beyond anyone’s comprehension. Innocent lives, including the lives of young children, have been cruelly taken. These unspeakable tragedies have caused parents, families and community members in many different regions of our country to ask “How could this happen?” and to demand that all of us unite in our common humanity to stop the massacres of innocent lives.

Catholics in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis echo Pope Francis’ words following the massacre in Uvalde, Texas. “My heart is broken,” the pope said. “I pray for the children and adults killed, and for their families. … It is time to say ‘no’ to the indiscriminate trafficking of weapons.”

As responsible citizens of diverse communities throughout central and southern Indiana, we share the enormous grief of our brothers and sisters. We pray for them, and we commit ourselves to advocating for concrete, practical actions that can prevent these nightmares from happening again.

With this in mind, we strongly urge all Indiana state lawmakers and members of Congress to reflect on these tragic events and be moved to action because of them. We believe that there is something deeply wrong with a culture where racially motivated hate crimes and acts of violence—in schools, in places of worship, on city streets, and in the public square—are increasingly common.

We are convinced that there must be respectful dialogue, followed by concrete action, to create a broader social awareness of all aspects of this increasingly horrifying crisis, including mental health, family life, the dignity of human life, the influence of entertainment and gaming industries, bullying, and the availability of firearms. Among the many steps toward addressing this endemic of violence is the necessity of passing reasonable, effective gun control measures.

Pope Francis has warned many times that we live “in a world marked by a ‘globalization of indifference’ which makes us slowly inured to the suffering of others and closed in on ourselves.” As the pope also said, in his address to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in 2015, “Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society?”

We are keenly aware that violence in our society will not be solved by legislation alone because many factors contribute to the violence we are witnessing all around us today. Even so, our leaders must engage in a real debate about urgently needed measures to save lives and make our communities safer.

We call on members of Congress to work together in a bipartisan fashion. Towards this end, we endorse the following measures recommended by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2017:

  • A total ban on assault weapons;
  • Measures that control the sale and use of firearms, such as universal background checks for all gun purchases;
  • Limitations on civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines;
  • A federal law to criminalize gun trafficking;
  • Improved access to mental health care for those who may be prone to violence;
  • Regulations and limitations on the purchasing of handguns; and
  • Measures that make guns safer, such as locks that prevent children and anyone other than the owner from using the gun without permission and supervision.

We acknowledge the importance of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but considering the daily advances in modern technology, and the fact that some weapons are increasingly capable of causing mass murder when used with an evil purpose, we believe that the common good requires reasonable steps to limit access to such weapons by those who intend to misuse them in any way.

Most Reverend Charles C. Thompson
Archbishop of Indianapolis
June 16, 2022

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