In the wake of the horrible massacre of innocent schoolchildren and their teachers today in Uvalde, Texas, Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich released a statement on Twitter in response to this unconscionable act of evil, only 10 days after another mass slaughter in Buffalo (read his statement on that racist act of violence here). We are reproducing the text of his Twitter thread in full

Today, a gunman walked into a grade school in Uvalde, TX, and slaughtered at least 18 children. The shooter allegedly killed his grandmother before driving to the school. Authorities say the suspect is dead. He was 18 years old.

The parents were told, “Please do not pick up students at this time. Students need to be accounted for before they are released to your care.” Imagine being a parent with a child in that school. Imagine having to bury them.

Parents now face a delay in identifying the victims—such was the extent of the damage done to these children’s bodies by the killer’s weapons.

The NRA has its annual meeting on Friday in Houston, about 300 miles east of the massacre, less than a year after the TX governor signed into law a bill that allows people without license or training to carry handguns.

We don’t yet know whether the Uvalde gunman took advantage of “permitless carry,” but we do know that America is awash in guns. We have more firearms than people.

It was not always this way. But more Americans died from gun violence in 2020 than during any other year on record: more than 45,000. That was a 25% increase from 2015, and a 43% increase from 2010.

Mass shootings have become a daily reality in America today. Two people died and 7 were injured last week during a mass shooting just down the street from Holy Name Cathedral. Last weekend in Chicago, 28 people were shot.

The size of the crisis, and its sheer horror, make it all too easy to toss up one’s hands and declare: Nothing can be done. But that is the counsel of despair, and we are a people of hope. What do we hope for our children?

That as a regular feature of their schooling, they learn how to behave should a shooter attack? That they feel endangered by simply doing what society says is good for them—going to school? That they come to wonder whether they even have futures at all?

Tonight our airwaves will fill with pundits who offer predictable lamentations and warnings and tut-tuts and thoughts and prayers. And we must pray—for the victims, their loved ones, for the parents who will send their kids off to school tomorrow.

We must weep and soak in the grief that comes with the knowledge that these children of God were cut down by a man who was just a few years their senior. But then we must steel ourselves to act in the face of what seems like insurmountable despair.

We know that gun safety measures make a difference. A 2021 Northwestern Medicine study found that the Federal Assault Weapons Ban prevented 10 mass shootings during the 10 years it was in effect.

Researchers also determined that if the ban had remained in place in the years since it was allowed to expire, it could have prevented another 30 public mass shootings that killed 339 people and injured 1139 more. 

As I reflect on this latest American massacre, I keep returning to the questions: Who are we as a nation if we do not act to protect our children? What do we love more: our instruments of death or our future?

The Second Amendment did not come down from Sinai. The right to bear arms will never be more important than human life. Our children have rights too. And our elected officials have a moral duty to protect them.

By Cardinal Blase Cupich

I heard from a priest friend from the Archdiocese of Chicago who told me he had just spoken with Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio, who is asking is for prayer for the families who have lost their children. He is on the ground in Uvalde and has accompanied the grieving families all day. Whatever you can do to rally people to hold these families (and the archbishop as he accompanies those families) in prayer would be most appreciated.

Updates 5/25/2022:

  1. The statement is now posted on  the Archdiocese of Chicago’s website.
  2. NCR’s Christopher White has posted a telegram on Twitter from Pope Francis to Archbishop Garcia-Siller via Cardinal Pietro Parolin. We reproduce the text below:

Telegramma del Santo Padre, a firma del Cardinale Segretario di Stato, per le vittime della sparatoria nella scuola elementare in Texas

Pubblichiamo di seguito il telegramma di cordoglio per le vittime della sparatoria avvenuta oggi in una scuola elementare a Uvalde in Texas (U.S.A.), inviato a nome del Santo Padre Francesco dal Cardinale Segretario di Stato Pietro Parolin all’Arcivescovo di San Antonio, S.E.

(Translation: “Telegram from the Holy Father, signed by the Cardinal Secretary of State, for the victims of the shooting in the elementary school in Texas”

“We publish below the telegram of condolences for the victims of the shooting that took place today in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas (U.S.A.), sent in the name of the Holy Father Francis by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin to the Archbishop of San Antonio, H.E.)

Mons. Gustavo Garcia-Siller, M.Sp..:

Telegramma

The Most Reverend
Gustavo Garcia-Siller
Archbishop of San Antonio

His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the tragic shooting that took place at Robb Elementary School In Uvalde. Assuring those affected by this attack of his spiritual closeness, His Holiness joins the entire community in commending the souls of those children and teachers who died to almighty God’s loving mercy and he implores the divine gifts of healing and consolation upon the injured and bereaved. With firm faith in the Risen Christ, through whom every evil will be overcome by good (cf. Rom 12:21), he prays that those tempted to violence will choose instead the path of fraternal solidarity and love. As a pledge of strength and peace in the lord, the holy father sends his blessing.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State


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Mike Lewis is the founding managing editor of Where Peter Is. He and Jeannie Gaffigan co-host Field Hospital, a U.S. Catholic podcast.

What do we love more: our instruments of death or our future?
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