From The New York Times:
The day after an 18-year-old gunman massacred 21 students and teachers at an elementary school, state political leaders expressed fury over the shooting but quickly swatted away the possibility of new gun laws to stem further violence. Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller was listening.
When the media briefing at the local high school was finished, he made a spontaneous and impassioned appeal to some of the many reporters who had swarmed into Uvalde: The nation must overhaul its gun laws, limiting access to weapons designed to maximize carnage and suffering, he said. It must also abandon what he described as an unsettling cultural embrace of violence these weapons represented.
“We have to!” said Archbishop García-Siller, who leads the Archdiocese of San Antonio. “We’re supposed to promote life, the life of people.”
Since the attack, the archbishop, whose vast domain of roughly 796,000 Catholics includes Uvalde, has emerged as one of the most visible and vocal gun control advocates in South Texas.
“We’re supposed to promote life, the life of people.”
He has delivered sermons, spoken at public gatherings, appeared on national television, and given interviews to local and international journalists. He has argued that demanding changes to gun laws is no different than the Roman Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion or capital punishment, joining a collection of bishops who have pushed for the church to stake out a more forceful position in the debate over firearms.
Yet unlike some others, he is making that case in a place where guns are deeply ingrained in the culture, and most public leaders boast of their allegiance to the Second Amendment.
“We have made guns an idol in this country,” Archbishop García-Siller said in a recent appearance on MSNBC. “I believe with my whole heart that gun control has to take place in a more radical way.”
For the most part, the archbishop has been consumed with trying to shepherd a grieving community, making the hourlong drive to Uvalde from San Antonio again and again in recent weeks — leading Masses and presiding over funerals. He huddled with teenagers who lost their parents. He was also asked to counsel the mother whose son shot his grandmother and then stormed Robb Elementary School on May 24.