Below is a media statement from Johnny Zokovitch, Executive Director of Pax Christi USA, in response to the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Johnny’s reflections below reflect the various statements that Pax Christi USA has made in response to mass shootings and gun violence in the United States over the past 2+ decades, including last week’s statement on the shootings in Buffalo. Find many of those statements under the heading “Gun Violence” on our statements webpage here. Sadly, the calls for action in those statements still echo unanswered today.
Yesterday, 19 children and 2 adults were massacred while at school in Uvalde, Texas. I know, especially as a parent, that the devastation and grief of this cannot be overstated. I also know that we have been here before and that we will be here again.
In December 2012, I was tasked with writing the first draft of a statement in response to the mass shooting of 20 schoolchildren and 7 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. I have written many more since. I don’t want to write another statement this time. This nation, our elected leaders, have had a decade since then (and in actuality, much longer) to address this madness and to demonstrate that the lives of our children are more precious to them than the campaign donations of the NRA.
Reading today that statement from December 2012 locates us in the exact same spot we were then and have been so many times since. The unimaginable happens over and over and over again and nothing changes. Except for the pain and loss of those most directly affected and their advocates, this system — this culture — continues to accept child sacrifice as a normal component of keeping the political and economic machine intact as-is. Pax Christi USA’s statement from 2012 called this “madness”, yet it is a madness that our elected officials eagerly accommodate, ready to exploit it for their own greed and power and satisfied they can keep it from reaching their own door.
Mitigating gun violence isn’t rocket science. Common sense, reasonable solutions exist and have been proposed and advocated for generations now, but to no avail. Pax Christi USA has advocated for such actions repeatedly without significant change taking place.
As people of faith, our stories often revolve around making a choice between blessing and curse, between that which gives life or that which cultivates death. Such a choice should be clear. Unfortunately, for those public servants who could put an end to this madness, it apparently isn’t.
Our work as Pax Christi USA continues. Dorothy Day once challenged us to understand the gospel as a call to “comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable”. In this moment of overwhelming grief for the families of those who lost their loved ones in Uvalde, let us hold them and their spirits tenderly, inviting their mourning and desperation to be ours as well, to carry this grief and loss with them. And let us refuse to support politicians who believe that certain lives are expendable; let us find ever more creative and provocative ways to jolt the consciences of those in power back into some semblance of humanity, capable of making decisions which assure no more Uvaldes, no more Buffalos, no more Atlantas, Pittsburghs, Orlandos, Las Vegases, Umpqua Community Colleges, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Schools, Sandy Hook Elementary Schools or Columbines.
From Pax Christi USA’s statement of principles:
ON GUN VIOLENCE
On average in the United States, 100 people are killed every day due to gun violence, resulting in over 36,000 lives sacrificed annually and millions more forever traumatized in deference to the gun lobby. The disproportionality of gun violence is evidenced by Black people being ten times more likely to be murdered with a gun than their white counterparts, and women five times more likely to die if they are a victim of domestic violence when their abuser has access to a firearm. Individual and community trauma resulting from gun violence is devastating. As a community of conscience, we stand together to call for common sense legislation that reflects how much we love our children and each other; this includes such reasonable measures such as universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons, and the recognition that gun violence is a national public health emergency.
11 thoughts on “MEDIA STATEMENT: On the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas”
With deep appreciation, we thank you for these words of resolve and compassion. We are grieving yet again, so soon again, unable to understand. We reflect on scripture like Mark 8:36 and indelible quotes from the likes of Ellie Wiesel: “The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.” We cannot grasp the indifference, ignorance, inaction, individualism that has delivered us here. May we find solace in solidarity and demand that our leaders–in both political and faith arenas–call us back to our common values and demand that those with power and influence end the slaughter of innocents, the vulnerable. It has been said that meekness requires righteous anger when others are harmed but not when we are. With righteous anger, may our love for those who would remain indifferent to suffering and pain stir them into action and might our tough love transform the hearts of those leaders who seek gain at the cost of the innocent.
This statement and every statement like it, from Catholic press, from official Catholic spokespersons and from Catholic Bishops is morally worthless and moral cowardice.
Until we admit that the single biggest obstruction to passing legislation that is truly Pro Life, and has some possibility of ending this senseless murder cycle is the Republican Party and its elected legislators and executives from the President to the local neighborhood representatives, we stand no chance of accomplishing anything at all.
Yes, that is a political statement, but it is indisputable and immutable truth.
Until we accept that truth, and stand up and act upon it, we will be standing by and permitting murders we could have prevented.
And the moral principle that we must do whatever we are able to stop senseless destruction of life has not been repealed in morality or Church teachings.
In the present time, the only working theory we have is that, unless the Republicans lose their ability to obstruct the desires of the majority of the nation for an end to gun violence, by passing laws, and Constitutional Amendments if needed to give the Government the authority to regulate commerce in weapons of mass slaughter, and regulate the Merchants of Death selling those weapons of mass murder, we will never see the least reduction in this immoral behavior.
Yopu7 cannot be Pro Life and vote Republican, any more than you can be Catholic and worship Shiva on the side.
That’s my opinion, but it is the plain undeniable moral truth
Thank you for your heart-felt message of the need for action to stop this violence. We must let go of indifference and greed and open to loving kindness with all.
Sr. Mary Lou Geraets
Sorry, Sister, but we have left the realm of hoping platitudes can solve problems.
Only direct action by moral men can solve this problem, and the only action capable of addressing the problem is political action, removing all the legislators who find it convenient to obstruct every possible legislative solution in the name of Freedom, or Patriotism, or personal rights.
To be Pro Life means to do whatever you can to prevent the destruction of life at whatever time of life it is threatened.
Criminalizing abortion is definitely anti life, as it only serves to drive women seeking abortions underground, and, since it only comes into force when the abortion has already stopped a human life,,
it cannot protect a single human life.
The simple truth is, at the current crux we suffer, not voting for only Democrats for legislative and executive offices.;
there is no other solution, as the last 3/4th of a century prove beyond any doubt.
Excellently written. Only an inhumane person could argue against this sound reasoning.
I agree wholeheartedly andyou wrote it very well, nay I copy it to our news paper The Atlanta Journal?
Yes, thanks, please share!
Thank you, Johnny, for making PaxChristi’s nonviolent principles and legislative opportunities again clear in these mass shootings. I chastise the politicians in TX who today didn’t even mention that working toward better common sense gun legislation would show our love for these massacred children and teachers, and their families. Better gun legislation is doable. I pray that politicians who are beholding to NRA campaign funds will let go of their greed and power and do the right thing – to legislate common sense gun laws to show love for our children.
In addition to Pax Christi’s sensible positions on gun control, I believe it wise to connect ideas pertaining specifically to the social and economic conditions in America that contribute to violence, when weapons that lead to injury and death are added. Poverty is a big stressor. Mental health counseling in schools can prevent the kinds of anti-social behaviors such as bullying, canceling and ostracism that can drive some youths to firearms as means of dealing with such rejections. Involving parents and guardians in schools and places of worship can foster wise attitudes toward the stresses of life. Many such stresses can be dealt with through youth employment and sports and other free-time activities.
Thank you, Johnny, for your words which put the tragedy in Uvalde into social, political, and emotional perspective. Even those from other countries are again left wondering what it is about the US that allows for the repetition of mass murders, especially of beloved children. Let us pray that enough people wake up in order for common sense legislation to be passed. Make contacts locally, statewide, and nationally to demand that our elected officials pass laws that will protect every person, especially the children. And may we work to live nonviolently in our individual lives. To mitigate disillusionment, if possible, may our society take action, now. Peace.
Thank you Johnny.
This will be sent to
the local newspPer.
And to all members and
I was present at the bell ringing
Memorial at the Cathedral
Last night .