Cardinal Dolan finds common ground with Obama on guns

Cardinal Timothy Dolan prays at the 2012 USCCB Fall General Assembly Credit Michelle Bauman CNA CNA Vatican Catholic News 11 13 12 Cardinal Timothy Dolan prays at the 2012 USCCB Fall General Assembly. | Michelle Bauman/CNA.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York highlighted President Barack Obama's "call for sensible steps on gun control," noting that it is an area of agreement for the two leaders.

"I found myself nodding in agreement when the President said, '...Overwhelming majorities of Americans – Americans who believe in the Second Amendment – have come together around common-sense reform, like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun,'" the cardinal said.

In a Feb. 15 post on his blog, "The Gospel in the Digital Age," he explained that he was "very much in favor" of legislation passed by New York last month that constituted "the most comprehensive gun control bill in the country."

The cardinal's statement came in response to Obama's comments in his State of the Union address on Feb. 12.

"Gun control has been much on my mind since the Newtown killings," wrote the cardinal, referencing the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which a 20-year-old man shot and killed 27 people, including himself and numerous young children.

Calls for stricter gun control laws have increased since the tragedy, and such legislation has been discussed at both the state and federal level in recent weeks.

However, advocating for gun control is "not something new" to the Church, Cardinal Dolan said.

"The Holy See has continuously been a strong voice in opposition to international arms trading, the world's version of gun control," he noted.

In addition, he pointed out that the U.S. bishops have "for decades supported measures to get handguns off the streets, and to ban assault weapons."

He reminded his readers that he is no expert on the particulars of gun control legislation, but he maintained that "there can be no denying that, in the wake of Newtown, Aurora, Blacksburg, Tucson, Columbine, and almost countless other horrific and senseless deaths by guns, that something must be done."

Gun control is "part of building a Culture of Life," the cardinal explained, "of doing what we can to protect and defend human life."

He said easy access to guns "has contributed towards a Culture of Death, where human life and dignity are cheapened by the threat of violence."

While acknowledging that no system would be foolproof, he added that "we must do what we can to minimize the opportunities" for gun violence. In addition to limiting easy access to firearms, he pointed to an increase of funding for programs helping those suffering from mental illnesses.

"I have a long list of things to pray for this Lent," Cardinal Dolan said. "Asking God's help that our elected representatives in Washington and in state houses across the country have the courage and the wisdom to pass meaningful and effective gun control bills, will certainly have a prominent place in those prayers."

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