CHICAGO -- Archbishop Blase Cupich today weighed in on the city’s gun violence problem. Chicago’s Catholic leader called on the people of Chicago to get involved in the anti-violence movement and he’s prepared to lead the charge.
“I really believe people in Chicago want the best for the city,” Archbishop Cupich said. “And if I can be a part of stirring up a greater sense of ownership for the issues that are there, so that we can join hands and get something significant done, then I’m happy to do that and I invite others as well to speak out as well.”
And the Archbishop says he needs help. His call to action includes a request that voters contact elected officials and deliver the same message he has for our leaders who can’t seem to find a solution or compromise.
“There really is no reason why we need these combat weapons on our streets,” he says. “And so my hope would be that legislators would take seriously the danger that is inflicted on our neighborhoods but also the will of the people who really see this as a sensible way to move forward.”
But that’s not enough. As peace banners hang at catholic schools in the Archdiocese, the symbols need to spur a movement.
“My hope would be that people who are involved in the violence in our city, people who are in gangs, people who want to take out revenge on others, I would ask them to pray, too. I think all of us need to pray. This is a bigger problem than any one of us can solve. We need Gods help and we need each other,” Archbishop Cupich said.
On Father’s Day weekend, when a dozen died and dozens more were injured by gun violence in the city, the leader of 2.2 million Catholics urges common sense about guns and a sense of family unity.
“My hope would be that we would start a public discussion in our families, in our neighborhoods in our churches our places of work about what we really want as a society,” he said. “We can’t continue this way of having so many shootings and murders in our streets … especially these high powered automatic weapons, these street sweepers as we call them, that gun down people. … “We don’t need that in our streets and it’s time for us to say that and join hands together and get the job done.”
And don’t forget the foot soldiers, pastors like Father Michael Phleger and other priests who have been battling the gang influence in their parishes for years. Archbishop Cupich says he wants to work with them to come up with a wide reaching solution.
“They are living firsthand in this environment,” Archbishop Cupich says. “They are doing the funerals for people. They are consoling those who grieve the loss of their sons and daughters, people who are gunned down and who are living in this violence ... they live with that day in and day out and they are real heroes.”
The day he arrived here in Chicago, one of the first questions he faced at the airport was about the violence in Chicago. Acrchbishop Cupich says he knew then this would be a major focus for him as a pastor.
“I indicated that I see this as a major issue for the church to be involved in. so really from the get go I saw this as the case,” he says.
The Archbishop says if people feel hopeless they will not be able to change the world around them. But together he says – no matter what the religion, we can achieve peace.