The Price of Silence

I am confused as to why my pro-life Church has been silent on the issue of gun violence, gun deaths, and gun legislation.

I live in Colorado, and I will never forget watching the televised memorial of the Columbine massacre. A reporter interviewed a priest in the crowd who explained that Columbine was a result of our violent society. He said, “These boys used violence to solve their problems because we as a society use violence to solve our problems.” He went on to list war, the death penalty, and abortion. We only have to look at war and the rise of violent crime to see that violence never solves problems; it only creates more violence.

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Despite these memorable words from a lone priest, the institutional Catholic Church remains silent on the controversial issue of gun violence. On the other hand, the Church has been (and continues to be) so vocally “pro-life” when it comes to issues of women’s reproduction that they have spent untold resources battling against expanding health care access to more people — especially children — because it also included a small provision that gave more women access to birth control. Yet, even after we collectively survive a tragedy where 6 and 7-years-old are murdered in cold terror at a public school with legally-owned guns, the Church sits in silence on legislation that could save lives.

I have thought a lot about this over the past week as gun laws are being debated at my state capitol. A few weeks ago, staff of the Denver Catholic Charities testified against civil unions, threatening to cease adoption and other services rather than place a child in a home with a loving, same-gender, committed couple. This week I wondered where is the same voice from the Church on the seven gun bills in the Colorado Senate. Only silence from all three dioceses in the state of Colorado.

I am only left to conclude that the Church isn’t truly pro-life, but that it often operates from two different strains of motivation: 1) protecting patriarchal power; and 2) controlling women’s bodies, which is technically part of protecting patriarchal power. The Church is outspoken and obstinately “pro-life” when the issue centers on women’s reproduction, embracing an ideology that forces women to have children, treats women’s bodies as intrinsically impure, and de-humanizes women as mere tools of reproduction. Simultaneously, the Church has protected rapists instead of children, fought against access to contraception at the cost of life-saving healthcare reform,  and discouraged the use of condoms in the midst of an AIDS epidemic.

When you consider the facts, the Church operates in ways that are pro-patriarchy — not pro-life. And, nothing symbolizes patriarchal power more than the phallic barrel of a weapon with the power to kill.

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