STRATFORD, Conn. — The Rev. Tom Lynch used his weekend homilies at St. James Church in Stratford to call for Catholics to demand national gun reform and a ban on assault rifles, a bold move he says was met with cheers and more than one standing ovation from parishioners.
“A Catholic who believes the Second Amendment is a divine right is practicing the sin of idolatry,” said Lynch, a parish pastor for 29 years. “It’s time to play hardball on this. It’s not about should we have guns/shouldn’t we have guns? Do something!”
In the wake of the San Bernardino massacre last week, a parishioner showed Lynch a Canadian newspaper report about the frequency of mass shootings — more than one a day — in the United States in 2015. In response, he tied his weekend message to one of the gifts celebrated by Catholics during the Advent season — peace.
“I had to say something,” he said. “This is how we’re perceived in the world.”
Lynch, who supports the right to hand and hunting guns, said some of his parishioners took video of his homily and hope to post it on youtube and other social media.
“I don’t need to be in the spotlight, but I’m committed to the radical demands of the gospel,” said Lynch, who has been a priest for 44 years.
Lynch believes America is a violent society because there are two kinds of peace — that which is found within and that which is given from God. Those who look for peace within themselves eventually become self-absorbed and can’t participate in authentic relationships, the cornerstone of any healthy community, he said.
“9/11 changed our culture,” he said. “Parents became helicopter parents, over-functioning parents, because they knew our culture was becoming violent.”
He told his parishioners this has created a deep-seated anxiety in the younger generations, who feel powerless against violence because they don’t see the older generation doing anything substantial to combat it.
Lynch called on Congress to ban assault weapons and to spend money and time to break the black market that puts guns in the hands of criminals.
“If Congress doesn’t do that, they are being cruel and mean to the youth of this country,” he said. “You can spend a billion on war. Spend a billion getting these things off the streets.”
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