Credit: Catholic New World
Like sheep without a shepherd
By Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Catholic New World, July 29, 2012
“Recently I heard one local TV commentator try unsuccessfully to suggest that all the laws and external programs in the world couldn’t replace the internal discipline one learns in family life. The family is the first and irreplaceable agent of socializing children. Without families, all of us would be like sheep without a shepherd.” – Francis Cardinal George
Each summer we follow the statistics on street violence, including killings in Chicago. This summer, the news of the killings in a movie theatre in Aurora, Colo., have brought additional shock. We have grown used to patterns of violence and, when incidents occur, there is an almost scripted response on the part of government officials and the media.
This past Sunday, the Gospel reading from St. Mark for the 16th Sunday in the ordinary time of the liturgical year comments on Jesus’ reaction when he looked at the crowd of people who had followed him and his apostles to an isolated place: “When he…saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.” Sheep without a shepherd scatter in all directions and are easily both perpetrators and victims of violence. Because the sheep in the Gospel are human beings, men and women and children, Jesus’ response was to teach them.
The official responses to violence are external: more police patrols and protection, curfews and other legal prescriptions on behavior, the control and even banning of weapons, recreational and other programs to direct energies away from violence. The church’s response has been more complex and personal. For the past several summers, many parish churches have opened their facilities to young people from all neighborhoods, and the archdiocese has multiplied initiatives to respond to violence. “Catholics for Nonviolence: fostering the way of Gospel nonviolence; archdiocesan- wide and parish-deep” was begun by a group of pastoral center employees and other Catholics as an umbrella group that creates and sponsors many initiatives. The contact person is Carol Walters, who is the Archdiocesan Director of Lay Ministries.