Cardinal Cupich on shootings: We must remove ‘weapons of war’ from our streets

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Police crime tape is seen around the area where children's bicycles and baby strollers stand near the scene of the Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park, Illinois on July 4, 2022.

Originally Published by VATICAN NEWS

In an interview with Vatican News, Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, says something must change so that profits stop driving this gun violence ‘enslaving’ the United States. His words come in the wake of the Fourth of July shooting in a Chicago suburb.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Cardinal Blase Cupich says that weapons of war should not be in the hands of people on a daily basis, and suggests that the Holy Father’s call for a culture of nonviolence be taken seriously so that it becomes a reality.

In an interview with Vatican News, Cardinal Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, condemns the tragic shooting during a Fourth of July celebration in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, and speaks about how his Archdiocese is working to comfort those affected and traumatized by the deadly events.

On Monday, a gunman on a rooftop opened fire on an Independence Day parade in the affluent Chicago suburb killing at least six people and wounding at least 30 others. Police identified Robert E. Crimo III as a person of interest in the shooting and after an hours-long manhunt, the suspect was taken into police custody. 

The Fourth of July shooting marks the latest tragic shooting in the country, and takes place in the light of hundreds of others during 2022 that have plagued schools, churches, grocery stores and public events.

Pope Francis saddened by Fourth of July shooting in Chicago

In this interview, the Archbishop of Chicago reacts to the tragedy, the greater situation of rampant shootings taking place across the United States, and the Holy Father’s appeals against the indiscriminate trafficking of arms. Saying “humanity must evolve,” Cardinal Cupich “warns that the profits being made from arms trafficking” are resulting in an “enslavement of our country in a culture of violence.”

Cardinal, what is your reaction to the tragic shooting yesterday during the Fourth of July celebrations?

Cardinal Blase Cupich: Well, first of all, it was ‘not again, please, not again,’ because we have had so much violence, not only here in Chicagoland, but across the nation. Every day in the United States, 300 people are shot and over 100 are killed, each and every day. And five of those are children who die every day of gun violence. So I was just heartbroken that this visited our area once again, but also outraged that this continues to go unabated in our country.

Well, this year, measures have been taken by law enforcement and civic officials so that the amount of gun violence is being addressed in a serious way. But they are hamstrung by the fact that we do not have sufficient laws in this country that allow for the restriction of especially high-powered weapons as the one that was used yesterday. There’s no reason why.

“We should not be able to allow people to possess and have access to bring into the streets weapons of war. Something has to change.”

There has to be, of course, due diligence with regard to safety procedures. But we also have to keep in mind that the right to bear arms in this country should allow for prudential judgment in interpreting the Second Amendment and enacting laws that take away these weapons of war from our streets. So until that is done, law enforcement, local law enforcement, and civic officials have difficulty in curbing the violence, even more so.

There have been more than 200 mass shootings in the United States since the start of this year. Do you have an appeal to make in light of the scores of shootings taking place across the country?

Yes, of course, mass shootings depend on weapons of violence that have huge magazines of bullets in them, as the one used yesterday.

“My hope would be that there would be a way in which we would be able to make sure that these weapons of war cannot be in the hands of people on a daily basis.”

They belong in gun clubs. They should be locked up, used only at places [like] firing ranges and so on. There’s no reason for them to be on our streets, and I think that this is part of the issue with regard to these 200 mass shootings in our country this year. We have to do something. As I said earlier, the Second Amendment did not come down from Mount Sinai. We need to exercise prudential judgment in interpreting the Second Amendment, and we have to deal with this in a way that’s responsible.

Pope Francis had just sent you a telegram expressing his sadness for the tragic attacks. And many times the Pope has decried the shootings in the country and the indiscriminate trafficking of arms. How is his message reaching and significant to the United States?

We’re going to continue to use that message in our country. Slowly, hopefully, people are becoming aware of the need to listen to the Holy Father’s word. Let’s not sidestep the whole issue. This is about money. It’s about people making money off these weapons of war to the enslavement of our country in a culture of violence. And as the Holy Father told us in a letter that he wrote to people here in Chicago in 2016, humanity has to evolve, quoting Martin Luther King, in a way that rejects vengeance, aggression and retaliation. 

“When weapons of war are so easily accessible to people who want to carry out revenge, aggression and retaliation, we find ourselves in a very dangerous situation.”

So my hope would be that the message of the Holy Father would permeate our American psyche, to realize that we have to build a culture of nonviolence that is not just a dream, but becomes a reality.

What is your reaction to the fact that this tragic shooting happened on the Fourth of July?

Well, instead of people marching in a parade, parents were forced to flee violence in the streets with their children in their arms. Instead of fireworks, gunfire filled the air. Instead of a celebration of freedom and liberty, people were victimized by our nation’s enslavement to guns. And instead of a peaceful day, a weapon of war ruled the day.

Are there certain ways to remember the victims planned in Chicago in these days?

This evening I’m going to Immaculate Conception Parish in Highland Park to comfort those who were victimized by this gun violence, but also their family members, and to pray with the entire community as a means of bringing comfort to them. I think that it’s important for the Church to act in this moment – in the words of the Holy Father – as a field hospital. That is what we’re going to be doing this evening. We’re going to touch the wound of people who are suffering and not only physically, but emotionally from the trauma of yesterday.

Parade attendees try to flee after gunshots fired during Highland Park parade

Parade attendees try to flee after gunshots fired during Highland Park parade