Uvarde, Texas — The day after an 18-year-old shooter slaughtered 21 students and teachers in elementary school, state political leaders expressed anger at the shooting, but the possibility of a new gun method to stop further violence. Was crushed immediately. Archbishop Gustavo Garcia Schiller was listening.
At the end of the media briefing at a local high school, he made a voluntary and ardent complaint to some of the many reporters who flocked to Yuvalde: the country reviews gun control and maximizes genocide and suffering. Access to weapons designed to be restricted must be restricted, he said. It must also abandon what he described as an uneasy cultural embrace of violence represented by these weapons.
“Should!” Said Archbishop Garcia Schiller, who heads the Archdiocese of San Antonio. “We are supposed to promote life, people’s lives.”
Since the attack, the Archbishop, whose vast territory of approximately 796,000 Catholics includes Uvalde, has emerged as one of South Texas’s most prominent voice gun control advocates.
He preached, spoken at public rallies, appeared on national television, and interviewed local and international journalists.He insisted on it Request a change in gun law Similar to the Roman Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion and the death penalty, it joins a group of bishops who have called for the Church to take a stronger position in the debate over firearms.
But unlike some others, he makes that claim where guns are deeply rooted in culture, and most public leaders are proud of their loyalty to Article 2 of the Constitutional Amendment.
“We have made guns idle in this country,” said Archbishop Garcia Schiller. With a recent appearance on MSNBC.. “I sincerely believe that gun control must be done in a more radical way.”
In most cases, the archbishop was obsessed with trying to shepherd a sad community, spending the past few weeks driving from San Antonio to Yuvarde for an hour, leading Mass and presiding over the funeral. He flocked with a teenager who lost his parents. He also attacked Rob Elementary School on May 24, when his son was asked for advice by the mother who shot her grandmother.
Still, speaking was part of his mission, even though he knew he wouldn’t expect a fully receptive audience within the Archdiocese, which spans about 20 counties around San Antonio.
When asked in an interview with the New York Times how to reconcile his call to the community with a long-standing gun hug, his answer was sudden. “You can’t harmonize a gun with life,” he said.
Gun control activists say he speaks at a crucial point because he was optimistic that the anger and anguish of shooting could cause people to rethink their long-standing views on gun rights. rice field.
“It gives Christians, especially Catholics, a moment of pause when they notice dissonance,” said Johnny Zokovic, managing director of Pax Christie USA, a Catholic organization that defends nonviolence. Commented “Political Leadership in Texas.”
In the sermon, Archbishop Garcia Schiller, 65, can speak verbally. In the conversation, his voice is sometimes barely registered on the tweet. However, the position of the Archbishop was unwavering. It was also not surprising in a way.
For over a decade as Archbishop of San Antonio, Garcia Schiller from San Luis Potosí in central Mexico has built a reputation for speaking about social issues by helping immigrants who are not specifically documented. He also ranked conservatives after a Latino-targeted shooter fired at Wal-Mart in El Paso in 2019, telling President Donald J. Trump, “Stop racial discrimination and start from yourself. I called. (He later deleted his post and apologized for criticizing the individual rather than focusing on the bigger issue.)
Jacob Friesenhahn, who heads the religious studies program at the University of Our Lady of the Lake, a Catholic school in San Antonio, said:
Conservative Catholic delegations, church teachings, including self-defense and protection of the public interest, Justify owning and carrying a gun.. But scholars said Archbishop Garcia Schiller’s position was undoubtedly more in line with Catholic teaching and represented a strong stance among Catholic leaders who grew out of their frustration with constant violence.
Father Dorian Riwellin, a Jesuit priest and director of the Institute of Higher Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California, said: “He is not making a radical new statement.”
Other Catholic leaders have spoken against guns since the massacre of Yuvarde. “Gun isn’t a problem, people don’t tell me it’s a problem,” Bishop Daniel Florez of the Parish of Brownsville, Texas, said on Twitter. Cardinal Blaze J. Cupitch has become one of the Catholic Churches as Archbishop of Chicago. The most persistent critic of gun violence And the forces behind it acknowledged that efforts to change may seem wasteful given the repeated bloodshed.
In a statement, Cardinal Cupitch said, “The magnitude of the crisis and its horror,” and “it is too easy to raise your hand and declare that you can’t do anything.” But that is the advice of despair, and we are hopeful people. “
In a letter to Congress in response to legislators’ efforts to enact some gun control measures, some bishops told elected officials “concrete actions to bring about a broader social renewal. Was urged to pursue.
“Among the many steps in dealing with this endemic violence, it is the passage of reasonable gun control,” they write.
The reaction to Archbishop Garcia Schiller’s position on guns among Catholics in Southern Texas is not only their long-standing political beliefs and their fear of shooting Yuvalde, but also when and how church leaders invade. Colored by their view of what is appropriate such a hot, seemingly unruly debate.
“It’s a matter of politics,” said Carlos Zimmer, 54, after a recent mass in the Catholic parish on the west side of San Antonio. “Not for religion.”
To others, he simply spoke to the painful emotions caused by the horrific violence.
“The Archbishop is like all of us,” said Danielle Casanova, 66, the owner of a gun worshiped in the parish of Helotes, a town of just over 9,000 people northwest of San Antonio. .. “We are humans and I think he was seeing the wounds we all see.”
Scholars and other Catholics have stated that the influence of church leaders has diminished in recent years due to institutional failures in dealing with sexual abuse and social shifts from traditional religious worship. By taking such a firm position with a gun, Archbishop Garcia Schiller is testing his sway in his flock.
But beyond that, the reaction to the Archbishop represents a vast range of opinions that currently co-exist in the Catholic Church.
Nancy Karza, a worshiper at Herots, said she believed that the Archbishop had the right to speak his heart and generally agreed with him.
“I couldn’t understand the justification for the general public to have assault weapons,” said 72-year-old Karza. “I’m not against hunting. I’m not against having guns for protection, but there’s no reason anyone other than the army or the SWAT team has assault weapons.”
Raymond Remiles, 59, said he understood why the Archbishop raised the issue. However, Mr. Remiles, who does not have a gun, was seriously thinking about buying a gun.
He rattled a list of mass shootings at a grocery store in Buffalo last month and at the Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, a community outside San Antonio in 2017. “It can happen here,” Remiles said. “I want to be judged by 12 people rather than being carried by 6 people.”
But the Archbishop said his mission was to provide compassion and moral clarity that stimulated change.
During the rally and the meeting with the families of the victims in Yuvarde, he visited Catholic schools scattered throughout South Texas for a year-end celebration. He also gave a special sermon to the children at the recent Mass of Sacred Heart, the Catholic parish of Yuvarde.
In the interview, he reiterates what he heard from an elementary school student navigating such a confusing moment. One student asked if he should pray for the shooter and his family, he said. Another said he believed that God would help them. “We will be fine,” the archbishop remembered what the child said.
“Oh, my goodness-oh,” Archbishop Garcia Schiller was surprised as he remembered the interaction. He shared the words, “Let the children come to me,” from the Gospel of Matthew, which has been repeated frequently these days.
In confronting a subject that is as controversial as gun law, he also said that wisdom can be drawn from children who have lost their lives.
“Can we bring small children to us? Can we pay attention to them?” Said the Archbishop. “These dead innocent people are a source of light for us — to live better and be better.”