Christians consider the Easter season to be a celebration of new life. In the northern hemisphere, it comes in springtime, as the Earth itself is reborn: plants, animals, even the weather comes anew to brightness out of the dark of winter.
In this time when the newness of life is all around, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has renewed its push for an integrated culture of life in this country. This time, the focus is on guns and the culture of violence that springs up around them. Gun control, they argue, ought to be part of a broad approach to reducing violence and restoring respect for all human life.
The bishops’ spokeswoman, Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, had this Op-Ed in the Washington Post on April 3. And, last month, the bishops offered testimony to the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate on the topic. That testimony was impressive, as it sets forth a vision of what gun control ought to look like as part of a comprehensive “pro-life” worldview:
In addition to policies intended to curb gun violence, we must also look to our entertainers, especially film producers and video game creators, and encourage them to reflect on how their profit motives have allowed the proliferation of movies, television programs, video games and other entertainment that glorify violence and prey on the insecurities and vulnerabilities of our young people. Such portrayals of violence have desensitized all of us. We must improve our resources for parents, guardians and young people, so that they can evaluate entertainment products intelligently. The viewing and use of these products have negative emotional, psychological and spiritual effects on people, especially the young.
Our society must recognize the urgency for providing health services and support to those who have mental illnesses and to their families and caregivers. As a community we need to support one another so no one feels unable to get help for a mentally ill family member or neighbor in need. Burdensome healthcare policies must be adjusted so people can get help for themselves or others in need. Just as we properly reach out to those with physical challenges we need to approach mental health concerns with equal sensitivity. There is no shame in seeking help for oneself or others; the only shame is in refusing to provide care and support.
Or, to put it as Pope Paul VI did decades ago: “If you want peace, work for justice.”