photo of Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA
Angel Praying

A Prayer for the Innocents

In many ways, it’s hard to believe it has already been one year.

Our staff was gathering for our annual Christmas party, preparing to celebrate the good cheer and hopefulness of the holiday season. The food was ready and laughter was filing the halls of our office. Then I saw the breaking news alert – shots fired at a Connecticut school. Then more reports came in – 10 reported dead, then 20. When it was announced that the majority of the dead were schoolchildren, my heart, along with so many across the nation, broke.

The children who were attending Sandy Hook Elementary School that day never expected to have the name of their town, Newtown, Conn., become short-hand for one of the most tragic, senseless acts of violence in our nation’s history. They never expected their lives would be turned upside down by a mentally-disturbed teenager with a gun.

In the year since, we’ve seen political efforts at stemming access to assault weapons fail, and the plague of gun violence continues to claim innocent lives. But working to prevent a similar wide-scale tragedy should not be a partisan issue. A year ago, I joined faith leaders across the nation in signing a letter calling on Congress to pass sensible legislation aimed at reducing the likelihood of a similar mass shooting. The three principles we call on Congress to adopt are:

  • Every person who buys a gun should pass a criminal background check.
  • High-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines should not be available to civilians.
  • Gun trafficking should be made a federal crime.

For more information, see the full letter. These kind of common-sense principles are ones that people of every background and political persuasion can get behind, helping our nation take important steps towards a future in which these tragedies are left firmly in the past.

Shortly after Christmas, our Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Innocents, children murdered by King Herod’s armies after Christ’s birth. The children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School were also innocents, too young to comprehend the evil that was befalling them. We seek to remember their promise and honor their lives by working to ensure that never again must we witness the heartbreaking scene of parents forced to bury their children.

Please join me in prayer for the children and teachers lost one year ago, and for their families. May perpetual light shine on the innocents of Newtown, and may God grant us success in our efforts to prevent these tragedies from ever happening again.


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