Sunday, February 25th
By Fr. Tom Hurley
In the wake of the Parkland High School shooting and the killing of Commander Paul Bauer, I said last week in my homily that something has to be done about the epidemic of guns in this country. Although the shock and horror of Columbine (and every other senseless killing before and after the events of Colorado) should have been the impetus for change, nothing seems to change. I have been watching closely the actions and words of the high school kids in Florida who have been courageous and outspoken about the need for change in this country when it comes to gun control and mental health treatment. I am fearful that once the television cameras no longer focus on these kids, the energy for change will dwindle.
I also mentioned last week during the homily that there have been some voices who have been upset when we, as priests on the altar, start mentioning things related to politics. But I also said that for me, this is not about politics: this is personal. I was 16 years old when my sister was killed by someone with a gun. I have credibility to speak on this issue. And besides, this is not about politics: this is also about the Gospel. I have no desire or expertise to get into politics. I was ordained to preach the Gospel. The Good News of Jesus Christ which we are called to proclaim is the gospel of Life, Non Violence, and Peace. How we protect human life, God’s greatest gift to us, from the womb to a natural death (not by violence) is what we as disciples are called to preach, practice, and defend. The late Cardinal Bernardin called it the Consistent Ethic of Life, or the Seamless Garment. While there are many layers to this: poverty, education, drugs, guns, abortion, capital punishment, homelessness, the Gospel calls us to be proclaimers of the Kingdom of God which is all about protecting God’s creation. We have serious work to do.
I hope the cameras stay on those kids in Florida and throughout the United States. They seem to be the ones whose voices make the most sense and their outcry is real and spot on. I am marking my calendar for March 24th and I hope you do as well. This appears to be the date when there will be marches for gun control.
I also want to share something I received from the Community Renewal Society, a faith based organization of which Old St. Pat’s is a member. The Reverend Robbie Craig, CRS’s Interim Excecutive Director, wrote in a recent letter: “We must take action to end the killing of our children and others in our communities by calling on our government to make changes at every level. We can begin today in our state. Right now in Illinois, Senate Bill SB 1657, The Gun Dealer Licensing Act, which passed the Senate in April 2017, is pending in the House.
“SB 1657 would give Illinois the ability to encourage and enforce better business practices for gun dealers and hold corrupt dealers accountable. This bill, supported by the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition, will provide critical oversight to curb a major source of illegally trafficked firearms from entering communities in Illinois. I’m urging you to take action now by telling/demanding your state representative to vote YES on SB1657, The Gun Dealer Licensing Act, to help keep kids safe from violence. Let’s work together in faith and action to protect God’s Children.”
I’ve never really written articles like this before. It’s not been my style. But as your pastor, I cannot be silent any longer. This violence must stop.
For a peace in the world,
Father Tom Hurley