US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Follow up on "Under the gun"

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As temperatures rise in the summer, so does violence in our streets. And it's been a tough summer for many families here in Chicago.

This was a particularly bad weekend for Father Michael Pfleger, the Southside priest who has become well known nationally for standing up on behalf of victims and against gang leaders and gun manufacturers. Two teens who had been playing basketball in the church gym--open to keep kids off the streets--got in an altercation outside the gym and were shot.

It's not uncommon to see Pfleger's fiery preaching on the nightly news after such an event, but Chicagoans saw a softer side of him on Friday's news. "I'm hurt and I'm angry. Kids are getting shot up all over this damn city," he said quietly, visibly shaken by the events.

The man is not perfect, no, but you can't say he doesn't care. More Americans have died on the streets of Chicago than in Iraq or Afghanistan this year, according to an ABC story. Meanwhile, a Kentucky pastor invited his parishioners to bring their guns to church, connecting God to the second amendment.

In better news, two teens in Pfleger's St. Sabina parish are headed to Washington, D.C. this week along with seven other Chicago teens and 100 youth from all over the country as a part of World Vision's Youth Empowerment Project.

The youth will be supporting the Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education (PROMISE) Act, which has also won the support of Catholic Charities.

More good news comes today in the sentencing of Blair Holt's killer. As I reported in "Under the gun," Holt has become a symbol of youth violence in the past few years in Chicago. His killer was sentenced to 100 years in prison while the person who gave the gun to the killer got 10 years.

These are small victories in a larger war that we are ultimately losing. On the West Side of Chicago this weekend, 9 people were shot, including a 9-year-old girl playing in front of her house after a family reunion.

What her mother told ABC News shows the absolute craziness of the problem with gun violence: "It's horrible because I'm just thankful--and it's sad to say you are thankful when your baby is shot--but I'm thankful it was just her knee versus my baby being dead, paralyzed, or something like that," she said.

As St. Sabina youth ask in a campaign of the same name: Do you care?