Society Needs God to Stem Violence
By Bishop David J. Malloy
Once again, as a nation, we find ourselves weeping with those who weep (see Rm 12:15). 
We have been confronted with the news and stories of victims of horrific gun violence in the most senseless of manners. And senseless — that is without any inherent meaning — is what makes these most recent incidents so painful to all of us, especially to the families of the victims.
The shooting in El Paso, Texas, was carried out by a man who has been found to espouse cancerous ideas based in racial prejudice. He was reported to have driven nine hours to his target site, a Walmart store filled with random shoppers carrying out their daily activities.
In Dayton, Ohio, as of this writing, the police have not identified a specific motive for the shooter who also took the life of his own sister. Again, the victims were simply people enjoying their evening in an otherwise non-ideological night spot.
In short, the fact that the victims had no discernible connection to any ideological issues identified with the assassins makes these acts to have no sense at all, even in a distorted way.
Twenty years ago, it seems that the template for such random carnage was formed by the shootings at Columbine High School. Since that time, similar incidents have recurred with a frightening similarity. 
“Soft” targets such as schools, churches and concerts have become the frequent venue for these tragedies. Young isolated white males, often with troubled pasts and limited social skills and interactions have been frequent perpetrators. Typically they don’t survive the event.
Of course, each time such a new killing spree recurs, our politicians and commentators jump into action. They renew the debate about gun laws, personal liberty, the possession of weapons and the cultural presuppositions for which each side in the argument criticizes the other.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement last week reiterating the call of the bishops for “... responsible gun laws and increased resources for addressing the root causes of violence.” 
As people of faith we have long recognized that we live in a country in which various weapons are possessed by many people. While the vast majority of those arms are used morally and responsibly, the link between guns and these incidents is fundamental.
But if we simply look for legal and enforcement solutions, we miss an obvious and, I would argue, an even more fundamental problem demonstrated by these killings. That is that we have become a society that has lost faith in God and, with that, has lost its moral compass.
Our society has continually pushed God out of our public consciousness. That means that grace and the call to character, especially for men, has been excluded in many ways. 
Our society has attempted to fill that void with a culture of glorified violence in our media and a rhetoric, both politically and personally, that often demonstrates a failure to see in others the image of God who made each of us.
Another consequence has been the dissolution of the family and the absence of fathers in the lives of young men. It would be interesting to see how many of the shooters since Columbine fall into this category.
Most fundamentally, as a society we have lost the vision that God’s law of love will one day be enforced in judgment. In short, could one who truly had a religious sense, who was supported by society in recognizing the reality of God, carry out such inhumane violations of innocent life?
We can argue about the role of government in putting an end to violence such as we have just seen. 
But if, as a society, we do not place God back at the center of our lives, or at least not banish God from any part of our lives, our spiritual impoverishment will continue to manifest itself in many and terrible ways such as we have seen again this past week.