Catholic Leaders’ Letter to Vatican Calling for Gun Control

Following a recent pro-gun control statement from the Vatican, “Catholics from a range of influential posts — former U.S. ambassadors, national representatives of theologians, sisters and more — called for new gun control measures, naming Catholic members of Congress seen as roadblocks to tighter regulations” [via ncronline.org]. Question: what was the Vatican’s stance when Germans were sending millions of unarmed Jews to extermination camps? What’s the Holy See’s policy on the unarmed civilians currently suffering under the jackboot of government tyranny? Click here for catholicculture.org’s criticism of the Vatican’s anti-2A statement and here for the nytimes.com’s coverage of the letter-writing campaign. Make the jump for the full text of the pro-gun control letter . . .

All Americans share responsibility for public safety. This requires reasonable measures to regulate the sale and use of lethal weapons. As faithful citizens – Catholic theologians, priests, sisters and social justice advocates – we join our bishops, the Catholic Health Association and Catholic Charities USA in calling for common-sense reforms to address the epidemic of gun violence in our nation. Pro-life citizens and elected officials have a responsibility to show greater moral leadership and political courage when it comes to confronting threats to the sanctity of life posed by easy access to military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Members of Congress who take pride in their pro-life stance and appeal to family values have no excuse for inaction, and neither do any of us who share a firm commitment to these values.

We especially encourage our fellow Catholics in Congress, including prominent leaders such as House Speaker John Boehner, to stand up to the National Rifle Association and other gun

lobbyists who choose to obstruct sensible reforms. Catholics who earn an “A” rating from the NRA – including Republicans like Speaker Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic lawmakers such as Sen. Joe Donnelly and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp – should not put powerful special interests before the common good. We urge you to reflect on the wisdom in our church’s call for a “consistent ethic of life” as you consider legislation in the coming months that can provide greater protection for our families and communities.

Thousands of Catholics will gather this week for the annual “March for Life” in Washington to speak out against the tragedy of abortion. Our faith and our Church call us to remember, as we reflect on our most recent massacres, that the defense of human dignity extends beyond protecting life in the womb. Gun violence demeans human life and tears communities apart. There have been more than 70 mass shootings since the January 8, 2011, massacre in Tucson, Arizona. More than 900 people have been killed with guns since the Newtown tragedy.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently renewed their call for measures to address gun violence by echoing their 2000 statement, Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice. Bishops have called for “measures that control the sale and use of firearms” and “sensible regulations of handguns.” The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in a 1994 document, “The International Arms Trade,” urges political leaders “to impose a strict control on the sale of handguns and small arms” and states that “limiting the purchase of such arms would certainly not infringe on the rights of anyone.”

All of us need to work against the glorification of violence, remedy our inadequate mental health services and address the breakdown of family support structures. No single law or set of regulations will prevent all tragedies, but the complexity of this urgent challenge must not be an excuse for protecting the status quo when it comes to regulating the sale and use of lethal weapons.

President Obama and Members of Congress can honor the memories of those killed in Newtown, Conn., and work to prevent future tragedies by acting now.

Signed,

Miguel H. Diaz, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See (retired) and University Professor of Faith and Culture at the University of Dayton

Thomas P. Melady, U.S Ambassador to the Holy See, Uganda and Burundi (retired) President Emeritus, Sacred Heart University

Francis X. Doyle, Associate General Secretary, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (Retired) Marie Dennis, Co-President, Pax Christi International

Rev. Bryan N. Massingale, Professor of Theological Ethics, Marquette University

Rev. John A. Coleman, S.J., Associate Pastor, St. Ignatius Parish, San Francisco

Rev. John Langan, SJ, Professor of Philosophy and Catholic Social Thought, Georgetown University Rev. T. Michael McNulty, SJ, Marquette University, Jesuit Residence

Rev. Gerry Creedon, Holy Family Parish, Dale City, VA

Rev. Joseph Nangle, Our Lady Queen of Peace, Arlington, VA

Leadership Team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

Timothy Collins, Executive Director, Catholic Campaign for Human Development (Retired)

Tom Allio, Diocesan Social Action Director, Diocese of Cleveland (Retired)

Sister Florence Deacon, President, Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Sister Ann Scholz, Associate Director for Social Mission, Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Eli S. McCarthy, Director of Justice and Peace, Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Rev. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM. Chair of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, Directorate of the Franciscan Province of Holy Name

Rev. James E. Hug, S.J. President, Center of Concern, Washington, DC Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director, NETWORK

Patrick Carolan, Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network Sister Maria Riley, OP. Center of Concern

Nancy Dallavalle, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Department of Religious Studies, Fairfield University

John Inglis, Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy, Cross-appointed to Department of Religious Studies, University of Dayton

Tobias Winright, Associate Professor of Theological Ethics, Saint Louis University

David O’Brien, Professor Emeritus, University of Dayton and the College of the Holy Cross

Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, Stillman Professor for Roman Catholic Theological Studies, Harvard Divinity School

Terrence W. Tilley, Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Professor of Catholic Theology and Chair, Theology Department, Fordham University, Bronx

Sandra Yocum, Associate Professor, Religious Studies, University of Dayton Kristin E. Heyer, Bernard J. Hanley Professor, Religious Studies Department

Santa Clara University

Daniel Finn, Professor of Economics and Theology, St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN

Todd Whitmore, Associate Professor, Theology. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame

Mark J. Allman, Religious Theological Studies Department, Merrimack College Susan Ross, Professor of Theology, University of Loyola (Chicago)

Nancy Sylvester, IHM, President, Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue Detroit, MI

Mary Ann Hinsdale, IHM, Ph.D. Assoc. Prof. of Theology, Boston College Kevin Ahern, Vice President for North America, Pax Romana-ICMICA

Vincent J. Miller, Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture, Department of Religious Studies, University of Dayton

Gerald J. Beyer, Associate Professor of Theology, Saint Joseph’s University Alex Mikulich, Jesuit Social Research Institute, Loyola University New Orleans Lisa Sowle Cahill, Professor of Theology, Boston College

James Salt, Executive Director, Catholics United

John Sniegocki, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Xavier University, Cincinnati Rev. James Keenan SJ, Professor of Theology, Boston College

Rev. Drew Christiansen, SJ Editor, America Magazine (retired)

Christopher Pramuck, Associate Professor of Theology, Xavier University

Rev. Thomas J. Reese, S.J., Senior Fellow, Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University Rev. David Hollenbach, University Chair in Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College M. Shawn Copeland, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Boston College

Eugene McCarraher, Associate Professor of Humanities and History, Villanova University Stephen J. Pope, Professor of Theology, Boston College

Paul Lakeland, Aloysius P. Kelly, S.J. Professor of Catholic Studies, Fairfield University Richard Gaillardetz, Professor of Theology, Boston College

Daniel Speed Thompson, Chair of Department of Religious Studies, University of Dayton

A.J. Godzieba, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Villanova University

Una Cadegan, Associate Professor, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Dayton

Joseph A. McCartin, Director, Kamanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, Georgetown University

Sister Paulette Skiba, Professor of Religious Studies, Clarke University

Stephen F. Schneck, Director, Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, The Catholic University

of America

Kathleen Maas Weigert, Assistant to the Provost for Social Justice Initiatives, Loyola University, Chicago

Anthony B. Smith, Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of Dayton Bradford Hinze, Associate Chair for Graduate Studies, Theology Department, Fordham University

(Bronx, NY)

Marian K. Diaz, University of Dayton

Joseph P. Fahey, Manhattan College, Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice Dolores Christie, Ursuline College (retired)