In Uvalde, a Bishop Makes an Impassioned Plea: Tighten Gun Laws

Yuval, Texas – The day after an 18-year-old gunman massacred 21 students and teachers at an elementary school, state political leaders expressed outrage over the shooting, but quickly ruled out the possibility of new gun laws to prevent further violence. Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller was listening.

After the press conference at the local high school, he made a spontaneous and emotional appeal to several reporters gathered in Wolverhampton: the nation must change its gun laws and restrict access to weapons designed to increase massacre and suffering. he said. It should also drop what he described as the restless cultural adaptation of the violence these weapons represent.

“We are!” Said Archbishop Garcia-Siller, Archbishop of San Antonio. “We need to improve lives, people’s lives.”

In the aftermath of the attack, the archbishop, who had about 796,000 Catholics, including Woldeaugh, emerged as one of the gun control advocates in South Texas.

He has given lectures, spoken at public meetings, appeared on national television, and given interviews with local and international journalists. Has argued that We need to change the gun law Which is no different than the Roman Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion or the death penalty.

Unlike some others, he makes that case where guns are deeply rooted in culture, and most public leaders boast about their allegiance to the Second Amendment.

“We have turned guns into idols in this country,” said Archbishop Garcia-Siller In a recent appearance on MSNBC. “I wholeheartedly believe that gun control should take place more seriously.”

Often, the archbishop is engrossed in trying Shepherd the grieving community, Repeating the hour-long journey from San Antonio to Wolverhampton in recent weeks – leading the Mass and leading the funeral procession. He embraced teenagers who had lost their parents. He was also asked to advise the mother of the son who attacked Rob Elementary School on May 24 and shot his grandmother.

However, even though he knew he should not expect a completely acceptable audience within his archbishops spanning nearly two dozen districts around San Antonio, speaking out felt like part of his mission.

In an interview with The New York Times, when asked how his call for the community could be reconciled with its long-standing guns, his response was abrupt. “You can’t fix guns with life,” he said.

He spoke in support of the US Alliance for Democracy but said that maintaining some independence was important for gun control.

Johnny Djokovic, executive director of Pax Christi USA, a Catholic organization that supports non-violence, said: Political leadership in Texas. “

In sermons, Archbishop Garcia-Siller, 65, is soft-spoken. In conversation, his voice sometimes does not record more than a murmur. But the Archbishop’s position is unshakable. This is not surprising in some ways.

He has been Archbishop of San Antonio for more than a decade. Garcia-Siller – a native of San Luis Bodosi in central Mexico – has a reputation for speaking out on social issues, especially in support of undocumented immigrants. He lined up conservatives in 2019, following the shooting of a gunman targeting Latinos at Walmart in El Paso, led by President Donald J. He called on Trump on Twitter to “start with you and stop racism.” (He later deleted the post and apologized for criticizing one person instead of focusing on the bigger issue.)

Jacob Friesenhahn, who leads a religious research program at Our Lady of the Lake University, a Catholic school in San Antonio, said, “He is known for taking a very progressive, pro-immigrant stance.

A group of Conservative Catholics, including those who defend the teachings of the Church, defense, and the public interest. Justify owning and carrying a firearm. But scholars say Archbishop Garcia-Chiller’s position is very much in line with Catholic teachings and represents a strong position among Catholic leaders, which has grown out of their passion for relentless violence.

Father Dorian Lillivlin, president of the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California and a Jesuit priest, said: “I do not think he’s going to go out with a limb. “It’s not like he’s releasing some serious new statement.”

In the days leading up to the Wolde massacre, other Catholic leaders have spoken out against guns. Daniel Flores, Bishop of the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, said on Twitter, “Guns are not the problem, don’t tell me people are the problem.” Cardinal Place J., Archbishop of Chicago. Kubica has become a member of the Catholic Church. Very persistent critics of gun violence And the forces behind it acknowledged that repeated attempts at change may feel futile.

“The scale of the crisis and its sheer horror,” Cardinal Kubich said in a statement, “It makes it so much easier to just throw up one’s hand and declare ‘nothing can be done.’

In a letter to Congress in response to lawmakers’ efforts to enact some gun control measures, several bishops urged elected officials to pursue “decisive action to bring about a broader social renewal.”

“In many of the steps to combat this local violence, it is through reasonable gun control measures,” they wrote.

The reaction to Archbishop Garcia-Chiller’s stance on guns among Catholics in South Texas has colored not only their long-standing political beliefs and their horror at the Wolde shootings but also their views on how and when church leaders wander. Such a heated and seemingly unresolved debate.

Carlos Zimmerley, 54, said after a recent Mass at a Catholic church in western San Antonio that “this is an issue for politics.” “Not for religion.”

To others, he simply gave voice to the painful emotions triggered by horrific violence.

“Professor is just like all of us,” said Daniel Casanova, 66, a worship gun owner at a church in Helots, northwest of San Antonio, which has a population of 9,000. “We are human beings. I think he sees the wound we all see.”

According to scholars and other Catholics, the influence of church leaders has waned in recent years, with institutional failures in response to sexual abuse and a shift in the community from traditional religious worship. By taking such a firm stand on guns, Archbishop Garcia-Siller tests the game he holds in the middle of his flock.

But beyond that, the answer given to the Archbishop shows the broader views that are now united within the Catholic Church.

Nancy Calusa, who worships at Helots, said the archbishop felt he had the right to speak his mind and would often agree with him.

“I can not find the exact reason for the possession of conventional civilian weapons,” said Ms. Kalusa, 72. “I am not opposed to poaching, I am not opposed to possessing firearms for security, but there is no reason for anyone other than the military and SWAT groups to possess assault weapons.”

Raymond Ramirez, 59, said he understood why the archbishop had brought up the issue. But, Mr. does not own a gun. Ramirez was seriously considering buying a gun.

He listed a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, a community outside of San Antonio, one grocery store in Buffalo in 2017, and another list of shootings in 2017. “It could happen here,” he said. Ramirez said. “I’d rather be rated by 12 people than being carried by six people.”

But the archbishop said his mandate was to provide moral clarity to inspire compassion and change.

Between awareness-raising in Wolverhampton and meetings with the families of the victims, he has visited Catholic schools spread across South Texas for year-end ceremonies. He also gave a special sermon for children at a recent Mass at the Sacred Heart of the Catholic Church in Wolverhampton.

In interviews, he repeatedly mentions what he heard from early-age children leading to such a confusing moment. One student asked if he wanted to pray for the gunman and his family. Another said he hoped God would help them. “We’re going to be fine,” the child said as the Archbishop remembered.

“Oh, my goodness – aha,” said Archbishop Garcia-Siller, shocked when he recalled the conversation. Matthew shared a line from the Gospel: “Let the children come to me.”

He said in dealing with a controversial issue, such as the gun law, wisdom can be gained from children who have lost their lives.

“Can the boys come to us? Can we notice them? Said the Archbishop. “These dead innocents are becoming a source of light for us – to live better and do better.”

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