WASHINGTON – In response to the July 4th shooting in Highland Park, IL, which killed 7 and injured dozens more, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth issued the following statement:
“Over the holiday, yet another community experienced the devastation of a mass shooting, a situation that has become shockingly commonplace in our country. One of the many horrors that emerged from this shooting was the orphaning of a two-year-old boy. He was found underneath his father, who died shielding him from gunfire. Our prayers are with this child, and all those who grieve in the face of this tragedy.
“It seems there are no days of the year when our nation is not grieving the latest mass shooting. It has not always been this way, and it is getting worse. That the Highland Park shooting took place on a day when we celebrate all that is good about America and America’s freedoms is a devastating reminder that mass shootings do not happen with the same relentless and brutal frequency in other places in the world.
“It can be hard to find hope now, though we know our hope is in Jesus who is always near to us in suffering. We are grateful that Congress recently passed its first major gun legislation in nearly 30 years. But in the face of these repeated acts of violence, that cannot be all we do. We call on Catholics, lawmakers, community leaders, health care and social service providers, law enforcement, and families to keep pushing for change and offer prayers, support, and generous assistance to victims. For years, the Catholic bishops of the United States have supported policies to strengthen gun laws, as well as emphasized mental health, family, and cultural factors, aimed at curbing gun violence. We support a total ban on assault weapons and limitations on civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines. It is sobering to think that as horrible as mass shootings are, they are but a sliver of total annual homicides committed with guns; and gun homicides, in turn, are far outnumbered by gun suicides.
“May we live to see an America that can celebrate its freedoms without orphaning its children. May the pursuit of liberty one day be a faithful guardian to the pursuit of life. May the Light of God’s compassion shine on us and guide our feet out of darkness and the shadow of death, and into the way of peace.”
For more information on the USCCB’s advocacy to prevent gun violence, please see:
• June 3, 2022, Letter to Congress
• June 23, 2022, Letter to Congress
• November 11, 2019, Address on Responses to the Plague of Gun Violence