Chicago

Archbishop Blase Cupich. Image via Goat_Girl / flickr.com

Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich has decried the apparent targeting of gays and lesbians in the Orlando nightclub massacre and called for greater efforts on gun control, the first senior U.S. Catholic churchman to identify a likely reason the victims were singled out and raise the controversial issue of access to weapons.

the Web Editors 5-04-2016
CBS Chicago

Image via CBS Chicago

Video of the incident, showing officers pepper spraying and dragging her as they laughed, was released April 28.

Stephen Mattson 3-16-2016

In today’s political climate we’re witnessing plenty of protesting — there is indeed much to protest. But some Christians, particularly in evangelical circles, believe protesting is sinful, that it’s only something that young, uneducated, unemployed, liberal fools do just for the sake of causing trouble.

Archbishop Blase Cupich greets Pope Francis. Image via Rich Kalonick / RNS

The morning after a Chicago rally for Donald Trump was canceled for fear of violence, the city’s Catholic archbishop warned that “enmity and animosity” are hallmarks of today’s politics and a “cancer” that is threatening the nation’s civic health.

“Our nation seems to have lost a sense of the importance of cultivating friendships as fellow citizens who, being equal, share much in common,” Archbishop Blase Cupich said in a homily March 12 at Old St. Patrick’s Church.

the Web Editors 1-14-2016

Image via /Shutterstock.com

In an abrupt change, the city of Chicago has made public video footage that documents the shooting death of Cedrick Chatman at the hands of Chicago police. The 17-year-old Chatman was shot and killed while running away from police. The officers claim he turned around and pointed a black object at them, an object which turned out to be a black iPhone box.

the Web Editors 12-09-2015

Image via  / Shutterstock.com

Hundreds of protestors have flooded streets in downtown Chicago, demanding that Mayor Rahm Emanuel resign.

The protests began after Mayor Emanuel publicly apologized for the death of Laquan McDonald, who was shot and killed by police in 2014. The Chicago Police Department’s chief of detectives retired suddenly Dec. 7.

Abby Olcese 12-07-2015

Spike Lee didn’t plan Chi-Raq’s release to coincide with a year in which the number of mass shooting on record surpassed the number of days in the year thus far . Nobody could have expected that days before the film’s release, the shooting in San Bernadino, Calif., would push the gun debate to (another) boiling point, with cries for legislative action in addition to the frequent “thoughts and prayers” of politicians.

That most people are Chi-Raq with the shootings in California fresh in their minds is a coincidence — one which makes the film’s message all the more immediate.

Chi-Raq is a satirical drama, a modern retelling of the ancient Greek Lysistrata. In Lee’s version of the story, Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris of Dear White People) is the girlfriend of Chi-Raq (Nick Cannon), a rapper and gang leader on the south side of Chicago. He’s also in the midst of a war with Cyclops (Wesley Snipes), the leader of a rival gang. When a young girl in the neighborhood is killed by a stray bullet, Lysistrata rallies women affiliated on both sides of the gang war to demand peace by denying their men sex.

What starts as a protest becomes a movement, taking the city of Chicago and the world by storm.

the Web Editors 12-07-2015

Dashcam video of police officers pursuing Ronald Johnson, released by Chicago PD on Dec. 7.

Cook County state’s attorney Anita Alvarez announced Dec. 7 that there will be no charges in the death of Ronald Johnson.

Ronald Johnson was shot and killed by Officer George Hernandez. According to Alvarez, Johnson resisted arrest and refused to drop a gun he was holding. Dashcam video of the shooting was also released. Officers had purported it shows Johnson holding a gun, but the images — dark and blurry — are inconclusive.

There is no sound on the video.

Alvarez had said she would make her decision based on "whether there was enough evidence to bring charges against the officer," reports the Chicago-Sun Times, and concluded there was not. 

Johnson’s mother has sued the city and Officer Hernandez, claiming that her son was not carrying a gun.

Read more here.

12-07-2015

My heart is very heavy tonight. The loss of black life is overwhelming today. Five were shot in ‪Minneapolis‬ at the hands of white supremacists last night.

Adam Ericksen 12-03-2015

Image via /Shutterstock.com

McDonald was a 17-year-old kid, gunned down by a police officer as he was walking away. The dashcam video shows Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times in the back.

But the official police story after the murder was that McDonald “refused to comply with orders to drop the knife and continued to approach the officers.”

The officers. Multiple officers witnessed the shooting, but none of them blew the whistle. Instead, they participated in a huge cover-up. It took 400 days for the video to be released. Why did it take so long?

Many speculate it’s because Emanuel was in the middle of a close election and the video would have hurt his chances of winning. To add fuel to the cover-up conspiracy, 86 minutes of footage was deleted from a Burger King security camera, including footage of the shooting. According to NBC Chicago, “a Burger King district manager said police deleted the security footage after spending more than three hours in the restaurant.”

Yeah. Emanuel and the Chicago police have trust issues.

Because in the end we are left with this fact: Laquan McDonald is another black body that didn’t matter.

Ruth Hawley-Lowry 12-01-2015

Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luther King jr. (ca. 1955). Public Domain via Wikimedia. 

We have told ourselves the story that somehow benevolent white folks acquiesced (and perhaps even saw the error of our ways) and, after a court case, “let” Mrs. Parks and all black folks sit wherever they wanted to on a bus. And, golly, looking back perhaps we were a little stringent in fussing about who sat where on a bus—but that’s all behind us now. Goodness—it sure would be nice if people would just stop talking about race!

The problem with this narrative is that it isn’t true. We in America haven’t dealt with the complicated history of what happened on Dec. 1, 1955 — or what happened before, or after. Many Americans have heard the name “Rosa Parks,” and they may have heard something about a bus. But they don’t know the history. As we look at the profound unrest and distrust in our nation, it is important to know the history.

Joe Kay 11-25-2015
Zacarias Pereira da Mata / Shutterstock.com

Zacarias Pereira da Mata / Shutterstock.com

The clerk in Kentucky is still trying to avoid doing her job while arguing that religion means never having to sacrifice or compromise in any way. The war-on-Christmas crowd is still passing around that story about a red coffee cup lacking snowflakes. Those who believe in an eye-for-an-eye are cheering as bombs fall in the Middle East in response to another horrific terrorist attack. Many Christians are still ignoring the calls for justice coming from the streets of Chicago, Minneapolis, and cities all across the land.

Don’t you want to throw up your hands sometimes? Or maybe just throw up?

the Web Editors 11-24-2015

Screen shot of dashcam video

After more than a year, and an eventual judge order, Chicago police today released a dashcam video showing officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times. Police released the video the same day Van Dyke was indicted on first-degree murder charges. He is being held without bail.

the Web Editors 11-24-2015

Officer Jason Van Dyke has been charged with first-degree murder, one year after the shooting and killing of Laquan McDonald, 17, in October of 2014.

This is the first time a Chicago police officer has been charged with first-degree murder for an on-duty fatality in nearly 35 years, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Blaise Cupich with Pope Francis. Image via Rich Kalonick / RNS

Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago, named by Pope Francis to that high-profile post a year ago, has issued a powerful call for tougher gun control laws in a move that may push the volatile issue further up the Catholic hierarchy’s agenda than it has been before.

The original intent of the Constitution’s right to bear arms has been “perverted” by a gun industry that is seeking profits at any cost, Cupich wrote in an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune. The founding fathers could not have anticipated the widespread availability of “military-grade assault weapons that have turned our streets into battlefields.”

“It is no longer enough for those of us involved in civic leadership and pastoral care to comfort the bereaved and bewildered families of victims of gun violence,” he wrote in the column, which was published Oct. 9.

“We must band together to call for gun-control legislation,” he concluded.

the Web Editors 9-17-2015

Image via /Shutterstock

“Several of the now 15 Dyett hunger strikers returned to City Hall Monday on their 29th day without solid food to call on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to at least have a ‘respectful conversation’ with them over the future of the Bronzeville school in Washington Park.

‘A compromise happens when two people come together and they work out together something that's agreeable to both parties,’ said Jitu Brown, a leader of the hunger strike, Monday at City Hall. ‘There was no compromise.’

According to Brown, he was told about the CPS plan 15 minutes before it was presented by Chief Executive Officer Forrest Claypool. Brown said he asked to continue to negotiate, but Claypool responded, ‘We're moving forward.’

‘That's not compromise,’ Brown said.”

Bishop Blase Cupich during an evening community meeting at Gonzaga University. Photo courtesy of Fast 4 Families via Flickr/RNS.

When Spokane Bishop Blase Cupich got a call 10 days ago with the news that Pope Francis had chosen him to be the next archbishop of Chicago — the pontiff’s most important U.S. appointment to date — he was so taken aback that he couldn’t speak for a few moments.

“To say that I was surprised doesn’t come close to the word I would use,” Cupich said Sept. 20 at a news conference in Chicago introducing him as the successor to Cardinal Francis George, who is 77 and battling cancer.

Asked by reporters how long it took for the reality of his appointment to sink in, Cupich smiled and said, “It’s still sinking in.”

A lot of other Catholics are trying to absorb the news as well, just as surprised that Francis picked the 65-year-old Cupich, who had been considered a long shot by many Vatican handicappers. They were also pleased, or concerned, that the pope had evidently chosen a bishop who shared his own emphasis on listening to the flock and caring for the poor.

“I think that he” — Francis — “sent a pastor, not a message,” Cupich told reporters.

Religion News Service photo by Adelle M. Banks

Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, new pastor at Foundry United Methodist Church, preaches on July 27. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

Chicago. New York. Washington, D.C. In quick succession this year, three women have been chosen to lead historic tall-steeple churches in all these cities.

In May, the Rev. Shannon Johnson Kershner became the first woman solo senior pastor at Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church. In June, the Rev. Amy Butler was elected senior pastor of New York City’s Riverside Church. And finally, in July, the Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli began leading Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C.

“For women to speak in those pulpits and speak boldly as public voices in these very public buildings is very powerful,” said the Rev. Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary, who recently hosted a dinner party with some of New York’s movers and shakers to welcome Butler to town.

It’s been 40 years since the Episcopal Church first ordained women, and other denominations have long included women in their clergy ranks. But these new advances are occurring sooner in the lives of these three women than some of their older counterparts. The Hartford Institute for Religion Research reports that women clergy are much more likely to serve in smaller congregations.

Scholar Diana Butler Bass hailed the arrival of these women — all in their 40s and leading large, urban, neo-Gothic churches — but also wondered if they reflect the “General Motors phenomenon.”

“Are women coming into leadership only as the institutions are collapsing?” asked Bass, author of Christianity After Religion.

Shakei Haynes 3-06-2014
Gun sketch, Aleks Melnik / Shutterstock.com

Gun sketch, Aleks Melnik / Shutterstock.com

A year ago this week, news headlines were filled with the story of Hadiya Pendleton. She was a 15-year-old band majorette from Chicago, who would march in the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Parade with her school. Just days after marching in the nation’s capital, Hadiya returned to Chicago’s south side where she was murdered by gunfire in Marsh Park after seeking shelter from a rainstorm. First Lady Michelle Obama attended the funeral, and Hadiya’s parents turned advocates and supporters of commonsense gun laws. The murder of Hadiya Pendleton became a painful representation of the nation’s broken gun laws and the effect that gun violence has had on the millennial generation.

Generation Progress and The Center for American Progress recently released a report: “Young Guns: How Gun Violence is Devastating the Millennial Generation.” According to the report, “American children and teenagers are 4 times more likely to die by gunfire than their counterparts in Canada, 7 times more likely than young people in Israel, and 65 times more likely to be killed with a gun than children and teenagers in the United Kingdom.” These statistics are startling and call for renewed attention to what this study has called a public health crisis.

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