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Reserve any copy Click Here Catalogue Record Published Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, Description vii, p. Between and the annual number of youths killed by gunsns grew from 2, to 5, We are tragically turning to violence in the search for quick and easy answers to complex human problems. A society which destroys its children, abandons its old and relies on vengeance fails fundamental moral tests. Violence is not the solution; it is the most clear sign of our failures.

We are losing our respect for human life. How do we teach the young to curb their violence when we embrace it as the solution to social problems? We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing. We have reached the point in one very visible case where a jury has urged the execution of the person who murdered the physician who was destroying unborn children.

This cycle of violence diminishes all of us -- especially our children. For our part, we oppose both the violence of abortion and the use of violence to oppose abortion. We are clear in our total repudiation of any effort to advocate or carry out murder in the name of the pro-life cause. Such acts cannot be justified. They deny the fundamental value of each human life, and do irreparable harm to genuine pro-life witness.

Just as clearly, a nation destroying more than one and a half million unborn children every year contributes to the pervasive culture of violence in our nation. We must affirm and protect all life, especially the most vulnerable in our midst.

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Likewise, we cannot ignore the underlying cultural values that help to create the environment where violence grows: a denial of right and wrong, education that ignores fundamental values, an abandonment of personal responsibility, an excessive and selfish focus on our individual desires, a diminishing sense of obligation to our children and neighbors, a misplaced priority on acquisitions, and media glorification of violence and sexual irresponsibility.

In short, we often fail to value life and cherish human beings above possessions, power and pleasure. Less obvious and less visible is the slow motion violence of discrimination and poverty, hunger and hopelessness, addiction and self-destructive behavior. The deterioration of family life and the loss of community leave too many without moral direction and personal roots. Grinding poverty and powerlessness leave too many without a stake in society and a place in our community.

Economic, social and moral forces can tear apart communities and families not as quickly, but just as surely, as bullets and knives. Lives sometimes are diminished and threatened not only in the streets of our cities, but also by decisions made in the halls of government, the boardrooms of corporations and the courts of our land. An ethic of respect for life should be a central measure of all our institutions -- community, economic, political, and legal.

This growing culture of violence reflected in some aspects of our public life and entertainment media must be confronted. But it is not just our policies and programming that must change; it is our hearts. We must condemn not only the killing, but also the abuse in our homes, the anger in our hearts and the glorification of violence in movies and music. It is time, in the words of Deuteronomy , to "Choose life so that you and your descendants may live Violence is a lie, for it goes against the truth of our faith, the truth of our humanity.

In Bosnia, Rwanda, Haiti, Sudan and so many other places, the world too often has watched as sisters and brothers were killed because of their religion, race, tribe or political position. The post-Cold War world has become a tumult of savage attacks on the innocent. Unprepared for this disorder and confused about what to do to resolve ancient rivalries, the international community has too often stood by indecisively as hundreds of thousands of men, women and children have been slaughtered and millions more have been maimed, raped and driven from their homes.

Peacekeeping and peacemaking are the most urgent priorities for a new world. Not all violence is deadly. It begins with anger, intolerance, impatience, unfair judgements and aggression. It is often reflected in our language, our entertainment, our driving, our competitive behavior, and the way we treat our environment. These acts and attitudes are not the same as abusive behavior or physical attacks, but they create a climate where violence prospers and peace suffers.

We are also experiencing the polarization of public life and militarization of politics with increased reliance on "attack" ads, "war" rooms and intense partisan combat in place of the search for the common good and common ground. Fundamentally, our society needs a moral revolution to replace a culture of violence with a renewed ethic of justice, responsibility and community. New policies and programs, while necessary, cannot substitute for a recovery of the old values of right and wrong, respect and responsibility, love and justice.

God's wisdom, love and commandments can show us the way to live, heal and reconcile. Our faith challenges each of us to examine how we can contribute to an ethic which cherishes life, puts people before things, and values kindness and compassion over anger and vengeance.

A growing sense of national fear and failure must be replaced by a new commitment to solidarity and the common good. In this task, the Catholic community has much at stake and much to contribute. What we believe, where we are, and how we live out our faith can make a great difference in the struggle against violence.


We see the loss of lives. We serve the victims. We feel the fear. We must confront this growing culture of violence with a commitment to life, a vision of hope and a call to action. Our assets in this challenge include:. Across our land, parishioners and priests, men and women religious, educators and social workers, parents and community leaders are hard at work trying to offer hope in place of fear, to fight violence with programs of peace, to strengthen families and weaken gangs.

Here are a few examples of ongoing efforts in dioceses and parishes to deal with violence in their communities:. In Los Angeles, the Church through its "Hope in Youth" initiative works with others to combat gang violence with youth opportunities and economic development. In Boston, the Ten Point Coalition is an ecumenical group of clergy and lay leaders working to mobilize the Christian community around issues affecting African American youth -- especially those at risk.

The Diocese of Cleveland coordinated an interfaith, gun turn-in program that took more than weapons off the streets. In Chicago, youth outreach efforts include conflict management; workshops on violence, drugs and health; and positive alternatives to violence. A business training program called "Something Good for the Hood," was created by St.

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What does it mean to be culturally competent?

Sabina's parish to teach youth and young adults responsibility and work skills. The Toledo diocese, in cooperation with the local YMCA, involves elementary schools in "conflict resolution and peer mediation" to heighten the awareness of the root causes of violence and address them. The dioceses of Palm Beach and Billings offered the program, Building a Sacred Bridge of Reconciliation which challenges traditional attitudes about women that contribute to domestic abuse.

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The program is sponsored by the National Council of Catholic Women. Catholic parishes joined in the Greater Bridgeport Interfaith Action, which successfully passed a ban on assault weapons later upheld by the courts. In Phoenix, the social action office has made available to parents suggestions for responsible TV viewing and ways to approach local stations regarding anti-violence themes.

Jackson, Mississippi Catholic Charities sponsors a shelter for battered families which serves women and children each year from seven rural counties providing transitional housing, legal assistance, and individual and group counselling. Little Friends for Peace, in the Washington, D. The diocese of Pittsburgh has joined a community-wide program for young people at risk providing viable alternatives to gangs through educational, recreational and employment opportunities.

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In parishes and schools, human service agencies, and family life and youth programs, our community of faith offers alternatives to violence, a commitment to education, and a source of hope and help in places of fear and failure. Now is the time for all of us to follow their leadership, to build on their example, to place our facilities at the service of the community.

Our young people, especially, need support and challenge, discipline and opportunities to use their talents and carry out their responsibilities in a world of conflicting values and often dangerous choices. Much is being done, but more is required. Our community is called to reorganize our priorities and recommit our resources to confront the violence in our midst.