‘Treating the Symptoms in a Culture of Violence Doesn’t Work. We Need to Look Deeper:’ Philly’s Archbishop Chaput

August 5, 2019 Updated: August 6, 2019

After the senseless loss of 31 innocent lives in two mass shooting in Texas and Ohio over the weekend, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput offered his thoughts on what is needed for fundamental change in America.

“Treating the symptoms in a culture of violence doesn’t work. We need to look deeper. Until we’re willing to do that, nothing fundamental will change,” Chaput said in a column published on his website, CatholicPhilly.com on Aug. 5.

The Archbishop referred to the Columbine High School massacre that happened two decades ago, which he witnessed. He said he had buried some of the young victims and personally witnessed the impact that the violence left on families.

“The experience taught me that assault rifles are not a birthright, and the Second Amendment is not a Golden Calf. I support thorough background checks and more restrictive access to guns for anyone seeking to purchase them.

“But it also taught me that only a fool can believe that ‘gun control’ will solve the problem of mass violence. The people using the guns in these loathsome incidents are moral agents with twisted hearts,” wrote 74-year-old Chaput who has been the city’s Archbishop since 2011.

He said these “twisted hearts” are created by “sexual anarchy, personal excess, political hatreds, intellectual dishonesty, and perverted freedoms that we’ve systematically created over the past half-century.”

Chaput recalled the testimony he gave at the United States Senate after the Columbine High School when he was the archbishop of Denver.

He had said, “The real problem [of Columbine-like violence in our culture] is in here, in us … In the last four decades, we’ve created a culture that markets violence in dozens of different ways, seven days a week. It’s part of our social fabric.

“When we build our advertising campaigns on consumer selfishness and greed, and when money becomes the universal measure of value, how can we be surprised when our sense of community erodes? When we glorify and multiply guns, why are we shocked when kids use them?”

In separate episodes in the last two weeks, gunmen killed three people and wounded 13 others in Gilroy, California, killed at least 22 and wounded 26 others in El Paso Texas, and killed at least nine and wounded 27 others in Dayton, Ohio.

Archbishop Chaput said any kind of violence is against the sacredness that’s the fundamental quality of life.

“When the most dangerous place in the country is a mother’s womb and the unborn child can have his or her head crushed in an abortion, even in the process of being born, the body language of that message is that life isn’t sacred and may not be worth much at all,” he said.

Epoch Times Photo
A woman kneels at a makeshift memorial outside Walmart, near the scene of a mass shooting which left at least 22 people dead, on August 5, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

He said contradictions exist because laws make certain kinds of killings legal.

“In fact, certain kinds of killing no longer even count officially as ‘killing.’ Certain kinds of killing we enshrine as rights and protect by law. When we live this kind of contradiction, why are we surprised at the results?” he wrote.

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