What caused the massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, which claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers? The answer, says a Catholic archbishop, lies in the culture of death that prevails in society.
In an interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency, Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio, pointed out that while "we all want very 'holy' and 'wise' explanations," few are willing to accept the fact that "the cause is a society with a culture of death and with instruments that kill.”
The archbishop, who days ago denounced the "idolatry" of weapons that exists in the United States, and especially in Texas, and encouraged the passage of laws to restrict their access, lamented that the authorities "don’t want to commit to taking more effective and more radical responses.”
“Do they want to resolve the situation? Do they want to know what’s going on? There’s a culture of death. The person is discarded from conception to natural death,” he said. However, “in the Church we say: We must protect every human person," the archbishop said.
On May 24, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, about 80 miles west of San Antonio, with an AR-15 rifle and murdered 19 children and two teachers, injuring many more before he was killed by the police.
Eighty percent of the 15,000 inhabitants of Uvalde are Hispanic, and a significant number are Catholic. At Sacred Heart, the town’s only parish, a total of 11 funerals are scheduled.
García-Siller, whose archdiocese includes Uvalde, has remained close to the community since the day of the shooting and offered the funeral Mass for Irma and José García on June 1.
Irma was one of two teachers killed on May 24. Her husband José died two days later of cardiac arrest, unable to bear the pain of his loss. Irma and José leave behind four children, ages 23, 19, 15 and 13.
For the archbishop of San Antonio, "a conversion of mind and heart" is necessary for the country to recognize that all people have "the same dignity."
The prelate stressed that from the beginning of the tragedy "I could see that people were living their faith in such a difficult situation.”
"The theme of hope was always maintained, because although there were many losses, for God, no one is lost," he said, stressing that "God in his mercy will save anyone he wants."
In addition, he stressed, “I didn’t hear from any of the families that I was able to visit” things like “where is God?”
"They understand that someone with a particular problem came in and shot and killed their loved ones," the archbishop said, stressing that "our responsibility then is to continue accompanying the community."
The Archdiocese of San Antonio and Catholic Charities have set up two listening and counseling centers for the Uvalde community. One is next to the Sacred Heart parish and another next to nearby Sacred Heart School.