Cardinal Cupich praises activists against gun violence at Good Friday procession

Cardinal Blase Cupich and young members of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Chicago spoke out against gun violence during a Good Friday peace walk on March 30. (Photo: Archdiocese of Chicago.)Cardinal Blase Cupich and young members of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Chicago spoke out against gun violence during a Good Friday peace walk on March 30. (Photo: Archdiocese of Chicago.)

Fatima Dominguez spent part of her Good Friday recounting her brother’s violent death, urging nearly 2,000 fellow Chicagoans to join her in fighting gun violence.

Pausing several times to compose herself, Ms. Dominguez, who is 16, recalled how she went “numb” when she learned over the telephone in December 2016 that her 17-year-old brother, Daniel Torres, had been shot to death.

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“My wounds are still fresh,” Ms. Dominguez said during a speech in front of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Chicago. Her family, she said, has still recovered from the shock of Daniel’s death.

“I feel so lost,” she said. “Gun violence needs to stop. I don’t want another family going through what my family is going through.”

“Gun violence needs to stop. I don’t want another family going through what my family is going through.”

Ms. Dominguez was speaking at the culmination of a peace walk through one of Chicago’s more troubled neighborhoods, Brighton Park. It was part of a Via Crucis, or Way of the Cross, procession meant to “acknowledge the burden of violence in the Hispanic community,” according to the Archdiocese of Chicago.

One of the event organizers, the Rev. Manuel Dorantes, told America that a group of young people led the effort to have his parish tackle the issue of gun violence. More than 50 of them attended the March for Our Lives in Washington earlier this month.

“We need to not necessarily be the ones to lead and say, ‘This is the way I want it,’ but ask, ‘What do young people want?’” Father Dorantes said, adding that gun violence is an issue “the church cares deeply about. It’s part of our consistent ethic of life teaching.”

Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, joined in the procession and addressed the crowd during the rally afterward.

Delivering remarks in English and Spanish, the archbishop praised the “courage” of young people who took to the streets to demand an end to gun violence.

“These young people who come from places some might call the margins have claimed a place at the center of our nation and have given all of us a lesson in courage,” the cardinal said.

“They came from the war zones of our city and spoke the truth—that their lives are sacred—and held those in power accountable for the bloodshed they know all too well,” he continued. The teenagers standing beside him shouted, “No more silence, end gun violence!" during the address.

Cardinal Cupich: “These young people who come from places some might call the margins have claimed a place at the center of our nation and have given all of us a lesson in courage,”

One of those young people was 16-year-old Diego Garcia, a parishioner at Immaculate Conception who traveled to Washington for the march.

Wearing a white “March for Our Lives” T-shirt on Friday, Mr. Garcia told America that he hopes other young people “will realize that their voices are important and not stay quiet.”

“So many people are dying so fast in our community,” he said. “The value of life is greater than the value of a weapon.”

Ashley Calderon, a 22-year-old woman from the neighborhood, attended the rally. She sustained a gunshot wound to her foot about six weeks ago while at a party and said the violence has to stop.

"We need to stop this. People just have random guns, they don't even know how to use them, just start shooting, and people get hurt," she told America.

The event started with a re-enactment of the Last Supper at another Catholic church before the procession, which weaved its way past a handful of Brighton Park churches. Several hundred marchers joined in along the way, following behind a re-enactment of Jesus being scourged by Roman authorities. Along the processional route, people stood on porches and snapped photos with their phones and blessing themselves. Some hung out of top-floor windows for a better glimpse. A truck carrying musicians and singers led the procession, with hymns in English and Spanish providing a soundtrack as members of the Chicago Police Department bookended the marchers.

At the end of the route, a crowd of several hundred gathered in front of Immaculate Conception to watch a re-enactment of Jesus’ crucifixion. An actor portraying Jesus, wearing a crown of thorns and covered in artificial blood, carried a large wooden cross through the crowd. He paused for a moment under a nylon banner, with the March for Our Lives logo, affixed to the side of the red-brick church before taking his place on the cross.

The banner read: “Dejen los ‘Pensamientos y Oranciones’ a nosostros. Legisladores, legisen! Prohiban las armas de asalto AHORA! Pedimos acción!” (“Leave the ‘thoughts and prayers’ to us. Legislators, legislate! Ban assault weapons NOW! We ask for action!”)

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Christopher Lochner
3 months 2 weeks ago

It's really very sad to see Jesus being made into a political sideshow with all manner of secular interpretation. Even worse, in a way, is the rather foolish quote, "People just have random guns, they don't even know how to use them, just start shooting, and people get hurt." I pictured guns on their own randomly firing or single knives and baseball bats flying around and attacking people at random (think Monty Python and the killer rabbit) There's absolutely no sense either of the evil which is embedded and dormant in all of us or the wrongs we do far too readily to one another. This is what Jesus warned us against. Does anyone really believe that the violence is weaponry dependent? Its a pity that the Religious Powerful only see Jesus as the basis for one cause or another (stop gun deaths but not murder, by implication or statement. Really!!??) Jesus weeps again.

David Sharples
3 months 1 week ago

It is very saddening indeed. Why is it that the people who support abortion on demand are always against innocents (owning guns and) being able to defend themselves?

Sharon Boland
3 months 2 weeks ago

Borrowed and edited from a posting at another Catholic magazine but relevant to the issue present in the article:

Those who forget (or never learn) history are destined to repeat it:

“It has been said in defense of the U.S Constitution’s recognition of a citizen’s right to bear arms that when the state fears the people, there is liberty and when the people fear the state, there is tyranny.

Consider what preceded Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany not so many years ago...a law requiring gun registration was enacted in Germany and law abiding citizens complied by registering their guns with local authorities. Following the Nazis seizing control of the German state, persons who registered their guns were quickly identified and forced to relinquish their arms.

On the night of November 9-10th, 1938, Nazi soldiers stormed into unarmed communities in Germany, Austria, and Sudetenland and proceeded to destroy Jewish businesses and synagogues (hence Night of the Broken Glass-Kristallnacht) and then forcibly removed Jewish people to concentration camps. Mass killings of the defenseless followed.

Would that the Jews had kept their weapons, they might have been able to defend themselves or perhaps deter the attack. Never again should such a calamity occur.

Leave the Second Amendment alone; our American founding fathers understood that an armed citizenry was a deterrent to tyranny and a precursor to liberty.”

See, https://www.washingtontimes...

Tim Donovan
3 months 2 weeks ago

As a former Democrat for more than 25 of my 56 years, I reluctantly became a Republican several years ago although I disagree with many typical Republican policies. I support stringent gun control laws, oppose capital punishment, favor reasonable government assistance to the millions of Americans in need, and favor reasonable government laws and regulations to protect our environment. Although I'm not a pacifist, I admire their convictions. I support war only as a last resort after diplomatic efforts have been exhausted. Civilians must never be deliberately targeted, and nuclear weapons must never be used. Also, I support reasonable government foreign aid, both for economic development and humanitarian assistance, both to assist impoverished people and for goodwill. However, I strongly oppose the violence of legal abortion, which kills almost one million innocent unborn human beings every year in our nation. Neither laws against abortion or gun control laws will ever be entirely effective. However, I believe that through educational efforts, political efforts, and alternative -to-abortion groups that many unborn human lives can be saved. Also, like the great majority of Americans, among other gun control laws, I support a ban on assault weapons. Even many Republicans support such a ban, and other restrictions on guns. I also support gun "buy back" programs when people receive cash for turning in their guns to the police. When my devout Dad died in 1994, I discovered in his bank safety deposit box a handgun. I immediately turned the gun into my local police department. My niece (happens to be a United Presbyterian, while I'm an imperfect Catholic) attended the "March For Our Lives" in Washington, D.C. on March 24, for which I commend her. Up until about 5 years ago, I attended the annual March For Life for about 20 years to protest the violence of legal abortion. In past years, I also peacefully protested outside abortion centers. In the late 1980's, I took part in a "rescue" ( peaceful sit-in) at a PA abortion center. I continue to vote for reasonable pro-life candidates for office, although President Trump has made various political and personal mistakes. Without boasting, I also when I'm able make modest contributions to various pro-life groups (political, educational, and crisis pregnancy centers). I also contribute modest amounts to various Catholic and secular charities. I n past years my parish had a Living Stations of the Cross, which I attended and found to be inspirational. I commend Cardinal Cupich and those who participated in the Living Stations of the Cross. Dr the past two years I"be lived in a nursing home/rehabilitation center, so I'm unfortunately unable to participate in outside liturgical celebrations. However, I do watch Mass every Sunday and on holydays. I also attend each Sunday a Communion Service conducted by an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. Once a month I attend Mass celebrated by a local priest who visits the nursing home. Finally, once a month I attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation with my compassionate pastor (who is kind enough to visit). I'm certainly not asking for sympathy. The nursing home has generally quality staff, and many of my friends here or other residents are severely disabled or very elderly.

Mike Theman
3 months 2 weeks ago

Hi Tim, we're the same age, but I made the switch to the Republican party only 8 years ago, unreluctantly. What you call "typical Republican policies" are not typical; they are the policies that the Left chooses to assign to Republicans so as to vilify the party. My views about the issues on which you think you are atypical are identical to mine, and there are countless others out there who think the same way. The difference between Republicans and Democrats, as I see it, is not one of what, but how: big government versus small government, as opposed to only-government versus no-government, the latter of which are the extremes.

Tim Donovan
3 months 2 weeks ago

Hi Mike. I'm glad that you made the switch to the Republican party. It's sad that most Democrats are so extreme regarding their position on abortion. I also am glad that we share the same positions on many important issues, and that (hopefully) many other Republicans are moderates. However, I must respectfully disagree with you on at least several matters. President Trump was endorsed by the National Rifle Association, which in my view has an extreme position in opposition to sensible gun control laws. (I realize that he also was endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee, the nation's largest pro-life group. However, I don't believe the committee had much of a choice, given Hillary Clinton's extreme position on abortion. However, I'm disturbed by the allegations about his sexual misconduct. I understand that the allegations might be false, but President Trump has a tendency to change his mind quite alot. For instance, not many years ago he favored legal abortion, and his positions on other important matters tend to often change. For instance, in an unrelated matter, he has hired and fired many important staff members for sometimes unknown reasons.

Mike Theman
3 months 2 weeks ago

A cardinal should be speaking against all violence; the source of violence, regardless of the implement used to commit it, is the heart. I submit that the hand has caused more harm to the world than the gun. Let Caesar do what he needs to in order to deal with the whims of the masses, and focus on God. Geez, Father, isn't that "Priest 101?"

Jim Lein
3 months 2 weeks ago

Caring for our children and grandchildren is more important than our having assault weapons--and all guns-- readily available. And despite how available guns are, they are owned by a relatively small percentage of the population. A recent study by Harvard and Northeastern universities found that the number of guns in America grew by over 70 million--to approximately 265 million--between 1994 and 2015. But half of these guns were owned by only 3 percent of the population. That small base, sometimes called "super-owners," has made the gun industry financially unstable. Remington has filed for bankruptcy.

As a Catholic I can't see relying on weaponry as following Jesus' words and example. How to justify such "super-ownership"? As for the comment about the Jews in Nazi Germany, the problem was too many Christians going along with Hitler much more so than the Jews not having guns. Not much Christ-following during those times. Society-wide refusal to follow Hitler's madness from early on could have stopped him before he got rolling. We Christians need to remember this more than we need to arm ourselves--or Jesus' example was in vain. He died for us without a physical fight, without relying on weapons, to show us his way. Except for a few shining examples, we haven't followed his way. Such a deal.

Tim Donovan
3 months 2 weeks ago

Good comment. I agree that children are more important than owning weapons. I had read an article recently in the Washington Post that there were an estimated 250 million guns in our nation, which according to a very brief article in Our Sunday Visitor weekly newspaper, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate and CNS had found that in 2016,_there were approximately 250 million adults in the United States. It means that there is about 1 gun for each adult, which is far too many. However, I wasn't aware that such a huge majority of guns are concentrated in the hands of such a small minority of gun owners.
I also tend to agree that Hitler rose to power in Germany because too many German Christians failed to speak out against his plans. Finally, I agree that as the Prince of Peace, that Jesus used His teachings and miracles to persuade people, not aggressive means. In a sense, Jesus was a victim of capital punishment, since He was crucified, the typical form of execution in the Roman Empire. However, Jesus was different in the sense that, though divine, He also became incarnate to teach and heal people, as well as suffer and die because of our sins, but rose again in victory over sin and death on Easter, which was His mission as the Messiah.

Sharon Boland
3 months 2 weeks ago

The gun registration law was enacted by the Weimar Period. The Nazis used the effects of the law...ie., registration of gund by law abifing citizens....to separate gun owners from their weapons. Once disarmed, the vulnerable Jewish community became lambs to the slaughter.

Remember the lessons of history. The American founders predicted the possibility of events like Kristallnacht (1938) in tbe 1780s...those lessons which speak to fallen human nature continue to be accurate in our times.

James Haraldson
3 months 2 weeks ago

Leave it to an idiotic liberal Catholic response to be no different than a Christianity hating secular liberal response. Pretending there could be social engineering solutions to a moral crisis, like more meaningless and ineffective anti-gun legislation, provides hysterical levels of emotional satisfaction to liberals, who not only do not understand moral solutions to problems but are continuously hostile to the concept of God-given moral truths, the honoring of which would run the risk of undermining and not requiring their preferred illusory role as society’s secular saviors.
The reality is that fatherless families have social consequences. A divorce culture has social consequences. Moral nihilism and an abortion culture have social consequences. Contemporary religious practices that exercise a cowardly refusal to mention the word sin anymore has social consequences. The stupidity of, I’m OK, You’re OK, pop psychology has social consequences. The endless irrational carping that it’s government’s job to fix all our problems has social consequences. A depraved entertainment culture and a refusal of Christians to condemn a depraved entertainment culture have social consequences. A lying news media, especially about Catholic matters, has social consequences. The refusal to monitor the indoctrination of young people to accept false ideas that don’t distinguish between autonomous self-respect and moral license in school guidance curriculums have social consequences.
The refusal of masses of Christians to respond thoughtfully like Christians rather than mimic anti-Christian liberals when confronting social problems has social consequences. All of which contributes to an ethos that further deteriorates tortured and broken souls.

Sharon Boland
3 months 2 weeks ago

And the failure of the Catholic Church to catechize its youth for several generations (since the 1960s) has consequences on their ability to understand moral law and put it into practice.

A moral citizenry is needed for a republic to function well. It is also needed to restrain people from misusing weapons of all kinds.

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