Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

To Fight Violence, 'We Need a Moral Revolution.' (Excerpts of Speech by Bishop John Ricard)

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

To Fight Violence, 'We Need a Moral Revolution.' (Excerpts of Speech by Bishop John Ricard)

Article excerpt

In the face of so much violence, fear and polarization in our land, we call for a moral revolution which begins with a fundamental respect for human life, which recovers a sense of right and wrong, rejects vengeance in the face of violence and which calls the nation to move beyond the tired prescriptions of both right and left. As pastors, we feel the fear and frustration, the anger and loss that comes with so much violence, but we do not believe the traditional liberal and conservative answers are adequate responses to this crisis,

Our problems are much more fundamental. We've lost respect for human life. We've lost a clear sense of right and wrong. We value things more than people. As this statement insists, we need more than new jails and we don't need more assault weapons. We need a moral revolution that changes hearts as well as policies. Something is fundamentally wrong when children are thrown from windows, driven into lakes and killed in our homes.

But the answer is not more violence or a spirit of vengeance, but rather a return to the fundamental values of respect for life, responsibility and community.

Some will try to put a political spin on this statement, seeing criticism of the Clinton administration or a coming conflict with a Republican Congress. We're pastors, not politicians. We don't adjust our principles to fit prevailing political trends. We oppose the violence of abortion and the use of violence to oppose abortion. We do not believe society can teach that killing is wrong by killing, so we renew our opposition to capital punishment. We affirm our support for reasonable restraints on deadly weapons and our call for the media to stop exploiting and celebrating violence in its programming.

For me this statement is especially personal and pastoral. I have been a pastor in the neighborhood of Anacostia in this city and the urban community of Baltimore. …

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