by Johnny Zokovitch, Executive Director, Pax Christi USA
National Catholic Reporter
Ed. Note: This article is part of our continuing series of posts in support of the Pax Christi USA Statement of Principles for the 2020 Elections. To read more about the 2020 elections, visit our Elections 2020 – #VotePax webpage.
In a recent interview, Donald Trump claimed that Catholics “have to be with President Trump,” citing his pro-life views and his defense of access to guns. What the president conveniently ignores is that the Catholic Church condemns greed, the exploitation of the poor, and the polluting of God’s creation, and he ignores nearly everything else about Catholic social teaching. It was especially puzzling to see him claim that his support of the Second Amendment should endear him to Catholics specifically.
In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has held a mirror to Americans generally and to the church specifically. How do we care for the vulnerable? How do we protect ourselves, our families and our communities? How do we react when we are afraid?
For too many Americans — including far too many within the church — the answer to that last question is particularly shameful. Americans have been buying guns in record numbers. Those upset with states’ and cities’ policies toward social distancing have carried weapons in their protests, not peaceably remonstrating their government for redress of grievances as much as implicitly threatening officials who do not cave to their demands.
The church, though, does not teach that we should act in fear, but teaches that we should act in love. Our bishops have long been at the forefront of anti-gun-violence activism, and Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Bishops Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, and Edward Braxton of Belleville, Illinois, have spoken out against violence in our communities.
The organization I lead, Pax Christi USA, has also been vocal about the need for reform of gun laws as well as the reform of our hearts. We serve a God who is love, mercy, compassion, justice. We see a Jesus who did not defend his own rights with the threat of violence but willingly gave himself up for us, and we strive to act more and more like him. We want to seed the reign of God here on Earth…