Chicago archbishop calls for tough gun control laws

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Bishop of Spokane, Blase Cupich, welcomes Fast for Families on March 6, 2013, during an evening community meeting at Gonzaga University.

Photo courtesy of Fast 4 Families via Flickr

Bishop of Spokane, Blase Cupich, welcomes Fast for Families on March 6, 2013, during an evening community meeting at Gonzaga University.

Chicago Archbishop Blaise Cupich, shown with Pope Francis in Rome on Sept. 2, 2015, has called for tough gun control laws. Photo by Rich Kalonick

Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, shown with Pope Francis in Rome on Sept. 2, 2015, has called for tough gun control laws. Photo by Rich Kalonick

ROME (RNS) Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago, named by Pope Francis to that high-profile post a year ago, has issued a powerful call for tougher gun control laws in a move that may push the volatile issue further up the Catholic hierarchy’s agenda than it has been before.

The original intent of the Constitution’s right to bear arms has been “perverted” by a gun industry that is seeking profits at any cost, Cupich wrote in an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune. The founding fathers could not have anticipated the widespread availability of “military-grade assault weapons that have turned our streets into battlefields.”

“It is no longer enough for those of us involved in civic leadership and pastoral care to comfort the bereaved and bewildered families of victims of gun violence,” he wrote in the column, which was published Friday (Oct. 9).

“We must band together to call for gun-control legislation,” he concluded.  “We must act in ways that promote the dignity and value of human life. And we must do it now.”

In the column, Cupich cited a memorable line from Pope Francis’ speech to Congress during his U.S. visit last month, when the pontiff denounced the profits of the arms trade as “money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.” It is money made off weapons, he said, “sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society.”

READ: Pope Francis to Congress: ‘Stop fighting, start working!’

The pope’s critique drew a standing ovation from many in the House and Senate, though they apparently saw the blast as directed principally at the international arms trade. Cupich disagreed.

“They really can’t stand and applaud one understanding of that line and ignore the domestic implications,” Cupich said in an interview in Rome, where he is one of 270 bishops from around the world meeting for an intense three-week debate about the church’s approach to family life in the modern world.

In his op-ed, Cupich cited not only Francis’ remarks, but also the Umpqua Community College massacre in Oregon that took place within a week of the pope’s visit. He also brought up the seemingly nonstop pace of shootings in Chicago itself, a city that has become synonymous with gun violence. In a recent shooting he cited, a toddler was wounded and her mother and grandmother were killed.

Yet while those tragedies were part of the equation, Cupich said he had been thinking about the issue since he was installed as Francis’ personal pick for the influential archdiocese last November.

READ: Survey: Americans SAY gun control is important, but do they mean it?

Cupich said he wanted to take time to assess the local situation, to talk with pastors and civic leaders and law enforcement officials so that when he did speak out he would “at least provoke further action … rather than just saying something that would get a headline.”

The archbishop not only called out gun sellers and “the damage done” by their quest for profits, but he also took direct aim at the Constitution’s Second Amendment guarantee of a “right to bear arms,” a right that has become increasingly sacrosanct for many Americans and the powerful gun lobby.

“Let’s be honest,” Cupich wrote. “The Second Amendment was passed in an era when organized police forces were few and citizen militias were useful in maintaining the peace. Its original authors could not have anticipated a time when the weapons we have a right to bear now include military-grade assault weapons that have turned our streets into battlefields.

“The Second Amendment’s original intent has been perverted by those who, as Pope Francis recently commented, have profited mightily. Surely there is a middle ground between the original intent of the amendment and the carnage we see today.”

With his column, Cupich — whose is seen as mirroring Francis’ pastoral approach to ministry — becomes the most prominent U.S. Catholic churchman to call for greater gun control, and in the most forceful and direct terms.

READ: Pope Francis names Spokane bishop to Chicago, dashing conservative hopes

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which comprises the nation’s nearly 450 bishops, has not made fighting gun violence a priority, and officials representing the hierarchy have generally used more measured language on the issue.

In the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting massacre, for example, the USCCB called for “reasonable restrictions” that would not infringe on Second Amendment rights.

In an interview on Sunday, Cupich said he hoped his fellow bishops would now consider giving gun control — and the environment, also a priority for Francis — much greater emphasis when they meet next month in Baltimore to revamp their guide for Catholic voters ahead of next year’s election.

Currently, both gun violence and the environment are tacked on at the end of the bishops’ voter guide, called “Faithful Citizenship,” while those issues are clearly at the top of the pontiff’s agenda.

Today, however, gun control “is a point that needs to be raised” by the American hierarchy, Cupich told Religion News Service, “with the impetus not just what I said, but what the pope said.”


  • samuel johnston

    “Gun control” is one of those feel good causes where the advocates never bother to examine the results of their many previous efforts and campaigns. Show me the positive results ( in the USA, please”). I am all ears.

  • Fran

    With or without gun control, people will still continue to kill others with guns or any other assortment of weapons.

    This is just as the Bible prophecied that in the last days of this wicked era, lawlessness would increase because the love of the greater number of people would cool off (Matthew 24:12). It will only get worse with time; but eventually become non-existent.

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  • Chris

    The archbishop is wrong. The majority of gun violence crimes are committed with hand guns, not “assault weapons”. An assault weapon is a automatic weapon such as the military uses. My question to all who champion this “feel good” knee jerk reaction is how are you going to get weapons out of the hands of criminals? Secondly, with a porous southern border where arms, drug, human trafficking go on unabated on a daily basis are we going to finally agree that the border needs to be secured?
    How about the church making a greater effort, using mass media, boots on the ground in impoverished inner city neighborhoods, at bringing the gospel to those in need of redemption? I have never heard of a person who is praying for another pulling out a gun & shooting them.

  • Larry

    ” I have never heard of a person who is praying for another pulling out a gun & shooting them”

    See Scott Roeder.

  • Ed

    HELLO !!!! WAKE UP !!! Chicago has the most gun laws of anyplace in the country and still has the highest crime rate.

  • Wrong on every statement, Cupich. The weapons the Founding Fathers HAD WERE “military grade.” As also mentioned, 99% of all gun crimes are committed by weapons other than so called “assault rifles.” If the Catholic Hierarchy adds gun confiscation to its coddling of illegal immigrants, maybe I will just put less in the collection basket. The good Archbishop can support his diocese with the contributions of ACTUAL criminals and illegal immigrants, if I am what is wrong with America.

  • B.F.

    Matthew 24:12 does say, “the love of many will grow cold”. But there’s nothing inferring that it will “become non-existent”. So I’m guessing this is your insertion. I’m not trying to put you down. It’s more like I’m trying to lift you up. You (we) need to have hope. It is one of the three theological virtues. By inserting that love will be essentially non-existent, means a lack of trust in Jesus’s love. His love will help us endure ALL that is to come. All we need to cling to Jesus; to follow the path He has shown us. To trust in ourselves and to develop a sense of fear is absolutely foolish. I know it appears that evil is having its day and Matthew 24 does say that there will be an increase of evil doing. Take heart and know that God, through His Son Jesus Christ, will be with us, as He said, “until the end of time”.

  • B.F.

    With all due respect Archbishop Cupich, if the church hierarchy would put more effort into bringing Christ Jesus to the people, (about His love and what He has in store for those who are faithful). Talk more about how we can follow Jesus according to His will and not our own. If the church hierarchy, in communion with all the clergy, and the laity, would do that, the talk about guns and their control would not be necessary.

  • Larry

    That is because our gun laws are an intentionally patchy hodge podge. The NRA lobbies for deliberately weak laws where they can influence them.

    …the scientific evidence suggests …criminals routinely respond to incentives, and policies such as background checks and permit-to-purchase requirements demonstrably save lives by reducing criminal access to firearms. The problem, these studies show, isn’t that criminals don’t follow laws, but rather that criminals aren’t dissuaded by weak laws. And gun laws in all but a few states are decidedly weak.”

    A feature of the markets that supply criminals is how swiftly guns make their way from legal gun stores to crime scenes when they are not fettered by tougher laws.

  • With all respect to the The Very Reverend Blase Archbishop Cupich, let’s not forget the other members of the “culture of death” that are consuming American lives: abortion, death penalty, assisted suicide, drug addiction, etc. They are all evils and need to be named, regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum. Thank you.


    Amen The 2d amendment was effected by intelligent men unlike those who have a job in our govt. It’s sole purpose is to provide us the ability to protect us against a treasonous and usurping government. We Americans are heading in that direction on a daily basis. The Pope and Cardinals need to stay in their lane ( military term ) as they don’t really care about us or they would not have the pedophiles to promulgate in the seminaries. Whenever they ask for more money I cut my tithing and give directly to needy causes such as EWTN, Priests For Life and 2 Indian tribe charities . The Catholic hierarchy presume that we the faithful are not discerning and need to be constantly hit-over-head with helping the poor and that wealth ( capitalism ) is bad. If not for veterans such as myself who paid the ultimate sacrifice of defending the USA and others worldwide the swindlers would not have the wherewithal to preach their gibberish.

  • larry

    “It’s sole purpose is to provide us the ability to protect us against a treasonous and usurping government. ”

    Except that was never its purpose at all nor finds any such meaning in the plain text. It is a hyperbolic interpretation used to cater to paranoids who forget that the government is not some entity divorced from the populace.

    A well regulated militia of the 2nd Amendment is meant and was used in early practice in SUPPORT of the government. Not as a bulwark against it. Until the adoption of the National Guard system, militias, the groups formed by armed citizenry under the 2nd Amendment, fought for the government, not against them.

    The idea that public dissent is expected to be met with armed response flies in the face of any common sense thinking. At no point was any tyrannical government ever turned back by yahoos with personal weapons. Not even the Founding Fathers accomplished that. Without copious outside support, not insurgency has ever survived.

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  • Jack

    Standing for stronger gun control laws in Chicago is like standing for more snow at the North Pole or in Antarctica.

  • Jack

    We agree, Samuel.

  • Jack

    The only problem, Fran, is that violence in our society is down, not up, over the past generation….far down, in fact.

    But for the whole world, I would presume it’s up, but even that’s not a slam-dunk assumption.