"And in the funeral homilies that he preached, the counseling he gave to the families- a lot of counseling in a situation like this is just being present. Because what are you gonna say, you know? You can't say 'I know how you feel?' because you don't. And I think the archbishop understood that his presence and the presence that it represented as the Church's concern."
The Columbine shooting prompted a national conversation about gun control and school safety.
Chaput testified before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on May 4, 1999. He addressed violence in media and popular culture- a widely-discussed topic in the wake of the shootings.
"The reasonable person understands that what we eat, drink, and breathe will make us healthy or sick. In like manner, what we hear and what we see lifts us up or drags us down. It forms us inside," Chaput told the committee.
He noted that "The Matrix," a film in theaters at that time hugely popular with teenagers, featured a great deal of firearm violence. Chaput wondered if the shooters had seen the film; and if so, he mused that "it certainly didn't deter them" from committing their violent act.
"People of religious faith have been involved in music, art, literature, and architecture for thousands of years, because we know from experience that these things shape the soul, and through the soul, they shape behavior," Chaput said.
"Common sense tells us that the violence of our music, our video games, our films, and our television has to go somewhere. It goes straight into the hearts of our children, to bear fruit in ways we cannot imagine until something like [Columbine] happens."
Chaput emphasized his view that tragedies like Columbine emerge out of a culture in which people are not being taught to value human life.
"When we build our advertising campaigns on consumer selfishness and greed, and when money becomes our universal measure of value, how can we be surprised when our sense of community erodes?" he wondered.
"When we multiply and glorify guns, are we surprised when kids use them? When we answer murder with more violence in the death penalty, we put the State's seal of approval on revenge."
"When the most dangerous place in the country is a mother's womb, and the unborn child can have his or her head crushed in an abortion, even in the process of being born, the body language of that message is that life is not sacred and may not be worth much at all."
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Maier agreed with Chaput's diagnosis of the problem.
"Young people are not being formed properly in the dignity of life, and older people, adults, are deeply into self-satisfaction and license."
"The disease needs to be addressed, not the symptoms," he said.
"Fixing it is not going to be removing one particular way of committing an evil act. People will find other means to do those things if they are committed to doing evil things. So I think the underlying culture that produces Columbine is still with us, and, if anything, it's worse."