Assumption Catholic Church
  323 West Illinois Street - Chicago IL 60654
  (ph) 312-644-0036  (fax) 312-644-1838    Map & Directions


Fr. Joseph Chamblain, O.S.M.


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11/19/2017 Fr. Joseph Chamblain, OSM    


As we all know, on November 5 a lone gunman in military gear carrying an assault type weapon, which is capable of firing up to 50 rounds, entered a Baptist Church in Texas and killed 26 people and wounded 20 more. The gunman was shot by a church neighbor who also owned an assault weapon. This has led to a lot of conversation in the media about churches being particularly vulnerable to mass shootings. For some, this incident was a call for church members to be more heavily armed and a further reason for opposing gun control. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said, “The people who slowed this guy down were people who had guns.” President Trump tweeted, “Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction.” Several pastors in Texas have announced that they will be packing a weapon every time they mount the pulpit.

My personal opinion is that this horror does not make churches any more vulnerable to mass shootings than any other place where people gather. We learned in the days after the shooting, that the gunman’s intended target appears to have been his former in-laws who worship at that church. If these ladies had regularly attended an exercise class at the community center, he would have shot up the community center instead of the church. What we do know is that assault type weapons, which were developed by the military for the military and which prior to 2004 could not be sold to civilians, have been involved in all of these recent mass shootings: the Texan church, the Las Vegas concert, the Orlando Night Club, the office party in San Bernardino, and Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In Chicago, of course, we are more accustomed to gun violence, much of it gang related. While concentrated in certain areas of the city, we also know that gunfire can break out anywhere, even in the most glittering parts of the Gold Coast. Two months ago Archbishop Cupich, with the support of the Archdiocesan Presbyteral Council, announced that firearms would now be prohibited on all property owned or controlled by the Archdiocese. He asked all Archdiocesan institutions to display the familiar “no weapons” logo. Since Assumption’s property is not owned by the Archdiocese, we were not obliged to comply with this policy. But after some discussion last month, our Parish Pastoral Council recommended that we also display the “no weapons” logo on or near our doors. Obviously this is a symbolic gesture. It will not prevent shooters from entering the church or prohibit parishioners who have a permit to carry from entering the church. (Studies show that from 25% to 30% of Catholics in the United States own guns). Assumption has a reputation for being a church friendly to law enforcement personnel, and this prohibition does not apply to them. It is basically a way of affirming that the church is a sacred site, a peaceful place, a place for people to gather, pray, and worship God.

In the wake of the November 5 shooting, Cardinal Cupich issued the following statement: “Once again we must extend our condolences to families suffering the horrific loss of loved ones to an act of madness. It would dishonor those lost and those who mourn to simply participate in the routine exchange of sympathies underpinned by the sense of futility and hopelessness that has befallen our country. We need to recognize that the factors that produce these tragedies will not change unless we take direct action to change them. Comprehensive national gun control policies will not prevent every shooting but it will prevent some. Access to mental health care—in legislation founded on the principle that health care is a right not a privilege—will not prevent every shooting but it will prevent some and will mean that we will have fewer podium speeches about our thoughts and prayers. Let it be our firm resolve to act and to advocate and to end this hideous blot upon our nation. Honor the memories of the many thousands of gun violence victims by holding accountable those who could have done something and did not, who called for study instead of steps toward progress, and who gave those Pope Francis has called ‘merchants of death’ more regard than the dead men and the dead women we mourn today. The time to act is now.”

                                                                                Fr. Joe


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