This past weekend, in less than 24 hours several innocent civilians were killed by gun violence in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. This pattern of “surprise attack” on unsuspecting people has been happening all too often and continues to cause fear and anxiety. It is hard to fathom that people who were shopping and enjoying an evening out with friends respectively in El Paso and Dayton that in a matter of seconds simply lose their lives without reason. Even the Holy Father, Pope Francis in his Sunday address in St. Peter’s Square, addressed this plague of violence that continues to threaten the livelihood of people in the U.S. and across the world.
This must be a cause for further reflection for all of us, especially in pastoral ministry. We spend our days and nights accompanying people in our respective ministries committing ourselves to the Gospel of peace and reconciliation. The level of brokenness in our lives and those around us should stun us to the point of taking on a hard stance against any form of threat that destabilizes the well-being of our communities and neighborhoods. We can no longer remain silent in light of this culture of death. I encourage you all to preach against violence in all of its forms and preach in favor of peace and reconciliation in light of God’s mercy.
On August 3rd, 2019, the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development issued the following statement:
“This Saturday, less than week after the horrific instances of gun violence in California, yet another terrible, senseless and inhumane shooting took place, this time at a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas. Something remains fundamentally evil in our society when locations where people congregate to engage in the everyday activities of life can, without warning, become scenes of violence and contempt for human life. The plague that gun violence has become continues unchecked and spreads across our country.
Things must change. Once again, we call for effective legislation that addresses why these unimaginable and repeated occurrences of murderous gun violence continue to take place in our communities. As people of faith, we continue to pray for all the victims, and for healing in all these stricken communities. But action is also needed to end these abhorrent acts.”
I encourage all of you in your communal and personal prayer as well as in our Eucharistic celebrations to remember the victims of violence and for peace and reconciliation in our nation and world.
May Christ’s mercy accompany us and may we be agents of healing for one another.
Anthony B. Pizzo, O.S.A.