Virtue Vacuum: Mass Shootings and a Society That Has Lost Its Way


Flowers are left by an unknown person for the victims of the Walmart shooting on Aug. 3.
Flowers are left by an unknown person for the victims of the Walmart shooting on Aug. 3. (photo: Grossinger /

The news of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left 31 dead and injured dozens of others was the latest sad chapter in the tale of a country that is losing its conscience. I join with millions of others in praying for the souls of all those affected in the Aug. 3-4 tragedies — and for all those affected by violence of any kind.

While well-thought-out policy responses on the national and local scale may be necessary to address these horrendous crimes, the divisive partisan politics on display in the aftermath of these tragedies never addresses the deep roots of the problem. No amount of gun control will cure the ills of a society that gleefully promotes violent and pornographic content and calls it “entertainment.” No amount of health care will heal the wounds of a culture that calls a decision to end the life of an unborn child, up until birth, a “choice.” No amount of communications technology can replace the value of one-on-one interaction.

A society that has lost its sense of humility, virtue and goodness is a society that badly needs to turn back to God. When there is a vacuum in these areas, a wayward people will fill it with anything — and in too many instances, the effects are tragic.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia reflected on the recent violence in an Aug. 5 column in his archdiocesan newspaper.

“The people using the guns in these loathsome incidents are moral agents with twisted hearts,” he said. “And the twisting is done by the culture of sexual anarchy, personal excess, political hatred, intellectual dishonesty and perverted freedoms that we’ve systematically created over the past half-century.”

Let us all ardently continue to pray for the leaders of our country, that they shoulder their responsibility to govern with justice, not ideology, and return this society to the virtues on which it was founded.

God bless you!