I want you to remember something in the coming weeks and months. Sometimes good Catholics disagree.
How I wish there was more quiet time, more time to grieve, before political bloodletting followed upon actual bloodletting. We no longer have room or time to breathe. We gasp and then we yell. At least that is what it seems like.
But we were not granted the time. Most of those beautiful children in Newtown have yet to be laid to rest, but the big headlines are already political and the side stories are of lives lost. Within days, we won't even have the side stories anymore. People often bemoan the coarsening of our politics. I don't know how it can be coarser than this.
But part of the political impulse of everyday Americans is understandable. When faced with unspeakable violence and unthinkable tragedy, we want to do something. And we want to believe that something can be done. Maybe some things can be done, but there is a real possibility that very little can be done.
There will be very real and important public policy debates over the coming weeks, months, and years about a number of topics including mental illness, school security, and of course gun control.
These are all prudential decisions about which good Catholics and Christians can disagree and remain good Catholics and Christians. What I ask you to do is remember that the person on the other side of the debate from you loves their children just as much as you love yours.
The person who wants to limit the availability of certain guns because they honestly believe this will save lives is trying to do the right thing. The person who cherishes their gun rights as a means to fulfill their fundamental responsibility to protect their family is trying to do the right thing too.
The argument for gun control is very easy to understand and has a certain appeal to our good and true desire to protect. The arguments in favor of gun rights may seem a little less intuitive to some people, but trust me when I say that many people cherish these rights for the same reason, out of their good and true desire to protect.
The person who disagrees with you on this is not your enemy. They love their children and the children of others just the same as you. Treat them with respect. Argue with them. Try to sway them. And listen to them. But in all things, treat them with respect. Treat them with love. If we do that, no matter how the debate turns out, we will have helped a little.