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For decades the city government of Washington, D.C., banned handguns among its citizens. Permits were given for special cases but, by and large, these lethal weapons were not to be in the possession of residents in a city that, tragically, has vied with other metropolitan areas to be the “murder capital of the U.S.” So the recent decision of the Supreme Court repealing the District’s handgun ban deserves our attention.
All of the majority votes in the Supreme Court’s verdict came from the five Catholic justices on the court: John Roberts Jr., Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito Jr. This highlights the irony that Catholic social teaching—which provides modern Catholics and others of good will with resources to apply biblical wisdom to many of the common problems facing us in 21st century life, including violence, arms production, and weapons proliferation—has remained the Catholic Church’s “best-kept secret.”
The facts of the court case are straightforward. Security guard Dick Anthony Heller, who had a permit to carry a gun when on duty, challenged the D.C. law, seeking permission to have a weapon in his home. The District Court threw out Heller’s case, but the D.C. Circuit Court reversed the lower court’s decision, and on June 26, in a 5-to-4 vote, the Supreme Court upheld that reversal.
A Second Spring
A Living Example
Brazilian Catholic archbishop Helder Camara brought a "preferential option for the poor" to the center of Christian social thinking.
Heart surgery opened my arteries---and my eyes.
The Daily Grace of Give and Take
The final column of a six-year run gives the author permission to write in the first person, wouldn't you say?
The Children's Funeral Parish
Early in the 1980s, I served a parish in Woburn, Massachusetts. This suburban city, some 12 miles north of Boston, had boasted of tanneries for 300 years.
Whose Life Is It, Anyway?
Ecology does not begin and end with the human, but it certainly includes us. All other beings share the planet and the cosmos with us, and we with them.
A Spirituality of Ecology
Put aside the Holy Scriptures for a while and read God's first revelationnature itself. Such was the advice offered some years ago by a profound, Christian thinker.
The Nature of God
Some days ago I received an unexpected call from Lima, Peru. A brother Franciscan there told me that Olga Valencia had died and, knowing of my friendship with her, he had attended the funeral. The news brought a flood of memories.
It's hard to pinpoint my first encounter with Olga. Surely it had to do with some request of hers for help—work, food, a handout. For she was the quintessential Third World mother, continually asking, begging, cajoling those of us in positions of privilege for charity on her own behalf and that of her numerous offspring. I must confess that in those early years she struck me as a whining, bothersome, pestering person, whom I tended to dispatch as quickly as possible.
One day her oldest child, 9-year-old Jose, was killed by a hit-and-run driver. It took Olga four days to bury him, and I walked alongside her during those terrible hours. From a halting investigation of the accident, to a still more halting autopsy in the city morgue, to a funeral director who wanted his money up front, to dealing with the accused driver—everything stood in the way of Olga's burying little Jose with dignity.
In the end, out of desperate necessity (no embalming in Peru) this mother, her husband, and I took Jose's body to the paupers' graveyard and buried him there. Then I drove them home, sat with them for a while, and left them to pick up once again the threads of their miserable existence. That day forever changed my relationship with Olga, and in some ways forever changed me.
The Receiving End of Mission
Once in a while you get to see people assimilate a value from a different culture. Its an enriching experience for everyone concerned.
A Modern Salvation Story
The drama that unfolded in the arrest and court proceedings of Theodore Kaczynski deserves serious, even prayerful, reflection. In part it focuses our attention on that most basic of all communi
Community for a "Dead Man"
"The hardest part in this is seeing the pain, not only the pain of those I love, but the pain of everybody involved.
Pax Christi Pilgrims
A unique faith community gathered recently in Washington, D.C., to celebrate its Silver Jubilee.
High Stakes in School
School in all of its dimensions inevitably marks our later efforts at community living.
The Power of an idea
The Difference Between a Community and a Cult
All Economics Is Local
His Life Dilemma
The many communities that Father Jim Healy served during 35 years as a Catholic priest came together recently at his memorial service.
A Special Community
For the first time in memory, the Latino community took to the streets of Washington, D.C., in large numbers on October 12, 1996.