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US bishops’ president says violence calls for ‘moment of national reflection’

The shooting of police officers on July 7 near the end of a demonstration in Dallas against fatal shootings by police officers in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis earlier in the week “calls us to a moment of national reflection," said the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“To all people of goodwill, let us beg for the strength to resist the hatred that blinds us to our common humanity," said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, in a July 8 statement.

The archbishop described the sniper attack on the Dallas police officers “an act of unjustifiable evil."

He said the “police are not a faceless enemy" but people offering their lives to protect others. He also noted “the suspects in crimes or routine traffic stops are not just a faceless threat" but members of families in “need of assistance, protection and fairness."

“When compassion does not drive our response to the suffering of either, we have failed one another," Archbishop Kurtz said.

He said the tragic shootings are reminders of the need to “place ever greater value on the life and dignity of all persons, regardless of their station in life" and hoped that in days people would look to ways of having open, honest and civil dialogue on issues of race relations, restorative justice, mental health, economic opportunity, and addressing the question of pervasive gun violence."

Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago said: “Every corner of our land is in the grip of terror fuelled by anger, hatred and mental illness and made possible by plentiful, powerful weapons."

“It is time to break the cycle of violence and retaliation, of fear and powerlessness that puts more guns in our homes and on our streets," he said in a statement.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia similarly pointed out violence is not an answer.

“The killings in Baton Rouge, Minnesota and Dallas have proven that by deepening the divides in our national life," he said in a July 8 statement.

“Black lives matter because all lives matter — beginning with the poor and marginalized, but including the men and women of all races who put their lives on the line to protect the whole community," he said.

Other bishops have also responded with statements to the recent fatal shootings.

Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik said: “If someone does something violent, it is imperative for us to reach out to each other in kindness and with respect and refrain from blanket condemnations. We must build bridges. We must tear down walls. We must break the cycle of violence."

He also called on people to recognise that each person is an individual. “We must not judge any person based on their race or color, their national origin, their faith tradition, their politics, their sexual orientation, their job, their vocation, their uniform."

Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, said the shootings should cause us to ask God “to show us the way to peace and how to live in harmony with each other."

He urged Christians to be “people of hope promoting reconciliation in a very violent world" and asked: “How much more killing must we witness before sensibly and rationally addressing the prevalence of guns, the inequalities in access to justice and the violence found in human hearts?"


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