Home | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising | El Centinela
Catholic Sentinel | Portland, OR Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Consecration to "Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Fatima" CYO track Southern Oregon Evangelization 2014 Priest Ordination Christ the King youth 2014 priest reassignments Our Lady of Lavang Confirmation, 2014 Memorial Day 2014 2014 Transitional deacon ordination Padre Foster Granados visits Albany Bishop Smith ordination Canonization of Pope John Paul II, Pope John XXIII Bishop Peter Smith 2014 Easter Vigil 2014 Walk of Cross 2014 Chrism Mass CYO basketball 2014 St. Patrick of the Forest 150th Catholic Charities Celebration of Hope, 2014 Boys2Men Archbishop visits Oregon State Penitentiary 40 Day Vigil for Life, 2014 Pope Francis creates new cardinals St. Henry shelter 2014 CYO swimming Funeral of Fr. George Wolf Travel on a budget Lunar New Year, 2014 Tech in Catholic schools 2014 Right to Life Rally Archbishop visits Santiam Prison First Mass in Oregon Milwaukie Posada St. Francis, Sherwood, Toy Drive Central Catholic football Typhoon Haiyan Deacon Ordination/ Kresbach, Schmitt A Catholic fisherman St. Cecilia Centennial Southern Oregon Welcome Mass Shepherd of the Valley, Central Point, dedication Grotto Anniversary 2013 Champions of Faith Dinner Gardenripe farms Coleman hop farm Corvallis Year of Faith Archbishop Howard at St. Rose Hitchhiking priests Regis School 50th Franciscan Spiritual Center Sacred Heart, Medford Migrant Mass Tanzanians' jubilee World Youth Day 2013 2013 Blessing of the Animals 2013 Freedom Mass Albany school closure Fabric art Megan graduates from Catholic school St. Vincent de Paul Hillsboro 2013 Deacon ordination Sister Theresa Lamkin St. Helen Mission, Brownsville Marist Brainiacs St. Mary, Eugene St. Francis eighth graders Ascension confirmation 2013 Pastoral Ministry Conference St. Joseph Salem Year of Faith Archbishop Sample's Installation Mass 2013 Archbishop Sample Chrism Mass 2013 2013 Young Catholics Pope Francis inauguration Celebration of Hope Vlazny Farewell Mass Archbishop Vlazny Farewell St. Paul Church in St. Paul Valley Catholic Green Building Rite of Election 2013 Water summit 2013 Lunar New Year Alveda King in Eugene New Monsignors, 2013 2013 Right to Life Rally MLK Mass, 2013 St. Henry, Gresham, Centennial Jesuit High drama School uniforms Friar in the mall Holy Trinity food ministry January Book Covers St. Andre Bessette food Year of Faith Mass Nestucca Sanctuary Hillsboro Choirs Father Betschart installation Salem Religious Freedom Rally Year of Faith Vespers, Awards Roy's Catholic School Adelante Mujeres 10th anniversary New Blanchet House Missionaries of Holy Spirit Priest, religious photos Providence Nursing Schools Pioneros Fortnight for Freedom Mark Bentz Deacon Ordination OLL School Walk Through Gaga over science St. Philip Neri Centennial Ordination of Bishop Cary SVDP, Grants Pass Holy Cross School centennial Confirmation - Mount Angel Holy Land Pilgrimage Blanchet Watershed Chrism Mass, 2012 Bishop-designate Cary Pope in Cuba, 2012 SSMO 125th Jubilee Mass Pope Benedict in Mexico 2012 Catholic Charities Celebration 2012 Madeleine Mardi Gras Centennial Rally for Life, 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Mass 2012 Day Laborers-Guadalupe Guadalupe 2011 Christ the King, Milwaukie, 50th Sesame Doughnuts Central Catholic Volleyball St. Peter Centennial Deacon Ordination, October 2011 St. Agatha Centennial Rosary Bowl 2011 St. Wenceslaus, Scappoose, Centennial Filipino celebration Polish Festival 2011 Holy War Football 2011 World Youth Day 2011 Sun Gold Farm Our Lady of Victory's New Church Freedom Mass 2011 St. Mary Church Steeple Removal Priest reassignments, 2011 Old Catholic Buildings Paige Rice, St. Mary's runner Graduation 2011 Easter vigils 2011 Pastoral Ministry Conference Basketball Holy War 2011 Search for Peace 2011

Mt Angel Towers 8.13

Home : Faith/Spirituality : Archbishop Vlazny's Past Columns
1/9/2013 8:49:00 AM
Responding to Tragedy

Most Rev. John Vlazny
Archbishop Emeritus of Portland


The Advent season was significantly marred this past year by the tragic loss of lives here in Clackamas and in Newtown, Connecticut. Here it was violence directed at shoppers in the Clackamas Mall. In Connecticut it was the slaughter of twenty children and six adults in an elementary school.  Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the President of our United States Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed deep sorrow for all the victims. He called upon all of us and our fellow citizens to work for peace in our homes, streets and worlds. Together with other church leaders the Cardinal asked all Americans, especially our legislators, to address national policies that will strengthen regulations of firearms and improve access to health care for those with mental health needs.

When tragedy strikes, inevitably our minds and hearts are paralyzed for a while.  Some of our churches held prayer services in memory of the deceased in Newtown.  Our own cathedral was one of them.  Bishops from California, Utah and Indiana issued a statement together in which they said, “Sacred Scripture reminds us time and again to ‘be not afraid’.  Indeed, we must find within ourselves the faith-filled courage to address the challenges our nation faces, both in our homes and in our national policies.”  Allow me to expand on some of the thoughts that were shared by my brother bishops in the wake of the violence at Clackamas and Newtown.

First and foremost, these are occasions for us to come together in prayer.  Families, friends, neighbors and communities affected by the great loss of children or loved ones find themselves emotionally distraught.  One never feels adequate to say the right thing when such suffering occurs.  Thanks be to God we can all look to Jesus, to his words and deeds, and ultimately to his cross and resurrection.  We are now at the end of the Christmas season when we celebrated the birth of Jesus.  Our God is not a distant onlooker to another tragedy.  He is one of us and he knows the grief and pain of suffering.  In Him we place our hope.

Almost immediately parents, teachers and others were greatly concerned about how to safeguard their children. Discussions began about national policies and steps that can be taken to foster a culture that protects the innocent and those most vulnerable among us.  We all need to remember that we simply cannot have it both ways.  Today’s culture is much too accepting of violence and convenient death.  More than ever we need to promote the culture of life and assure that we are doing everything we can to respect the dignity of every human person and to protect all human life.

One of the reminders from the world synod of bishops in Rome last fall is that the sharing of our beliefs and values is not an option.  It is a requirement expected of all the baptized, not just the clergy or official teachers of the faith.  Sometimes we need courage to take on the challenges that our nation faces in our homes and in our national policies.  Matters are complex and cannot be resolved easily.  For this reason it is important that we look hard at the issue of the regulation of firearms, the standards for the entertainment industry, and our service to those with mental health needs.  Because it is the beginning of a new term, Congress is reassembling.  Our state and local governments begin anew after the fall elections.  Women and men whom we have chosen to lead us now must face these issues and we must hold them accountable.

One of the thorny issues is the regulation of firearms.  Understandably parents and others are very concerned about protecting their loved ones.  This is an honorable intent, but we have to admit that guns are presently too easily accessible.  Back in 2006 the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace emphasized the importance of enacting concrete controls on handguns.  It was noted back then and needs repeating now that “limiting the purchase of such arms would certainly not infringe on the rights of anyone.”  Ironically, one week after the Newtown tragedy the leadership of the NRA called for more arms, suggesting that we arm vigilantes in every school across the nation.

On the other hand, the spokesperson for the NRA was right in suggesting that the proliferation of arms is not the only problem.  Film producers and video game creators must realize how their profit motives have allowed the proliferation of movies, television programs, video games and other entertainment that glorify violence and prey on the insecurities and immaturity of young people.  Exposure to excessive violence inevitably desensitizes just about everyone.  

When 20 little children and seven adults are massacred, we all have to pause and reflect upon what value we assign to human life.  We have to be able to help parents, guardians and young people evaluate entertainment products intelligently.  Unfortunately, the viewing and use of such products has negative emotional, psychological and spiritual effects on people.  

Furthermore, it is time now to look into our own hearts and see what kinds of prejudice linger there towards those with mental health needs.  We must provide health services and support to those with mental illness, to their families and their caregivers.  We should support one another so that no one feels unable to get help for a mentally ill family member or neighbor in need.  We certainly are improving in our efforts to reach out to those with physical challenges.  We need to have the same attitude towards those with mental health concerns.

Even in tragedy, given the basic goodness of the human family, there are signs of hope.  Many individuals went out of their way to help others at the time of the tragedy.  In Newtown, the teachers, the principal, the children, the first-responders and other leaders showed tremendous courage. There were those who actually sacrificed their own lives protecting others.  It happened both in Clackamas and in Newtown.

Back in the year 2000 we American bishops issued a statement on Crime and Criminal Justice, looking to our responsibility with respect to the rehabilitation and restoration of criminals.  In that document we asked our legislators to be attentive to these five concerns: 1) support measures that control the sale and use of firearms; 2) support measures that make guns safer (especially efforts that prevent their unsupervised use by children and anyone other than the owner); 3) call for sensible regulations of hand guns; 4) support legislative efforts that seek to protect society from the violence associated with easy access to deadly weapons including assault weapons; 5) make a serious commitment to confront the pervasive role of addiction and mental illness in crime.

As people of good will, we have had a wakeup call as a result of the terrible tragedies of December, 2012.  What a sin it would be to mourn the losses and do nothing about protecting others from similar violence in the future.  As we begin this new year, the Catholic community invites all people of good will to help us bring about a culture of life and peace.



Advanced Search











Mary Jo Tully ~ The Path to Resurrection

News | Viewpoints | Faith & Spirituality | Parish and School Life | Entertainment | Obituaries | Find Churches and Schools | About Us | Subscriptions | Advertising
E-Newsletter | RSS Feeds

© 2014 Catholic Sentinel, a service of Oregon Catholic Press

Software © 1998-2014 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved