A Letter from Bishop Lee on Gun Violence: There Is Another Way

October 14, 2015

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

In the midst of this epidemic of gun violence, when mass shootings have become commonplace and gun violence on the streets of Chicago claims thousands of victims each year, it is sometimes hard to find hope. But on Friday, Archbishop Blase Cupich delivered a sizeable measure of it when he published an opinion piece in the Chicago Tribune calling for people of faith and civic leaders to unite in favor of gun control legislation.

Today I have written to Archbishop Cupich, who became head of Chicago’s Roman Catholic archdiocese last November, to offer our support and collaboration. Cardinal George was a staunch ally in 2012 when we launched CROSSwalk, the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago’s initiative against gun violence, and I am heartened to know that our partnership with the Archdiocese of Chicago will continue. In this struggle, there is strength in numbers.

I have also written to Governor Rauner asking him to support legislation mandating state licensing of gun dealers. Between 2009 and 2013, nearly 20% of all guns recovered from crime scenes in Chicago were sold by just four of the area’s more than 2,000 gun dealers, and the very lives of our young people depend on our ability to curtail their unscrupulous behavior.  I hope that you will join me; you can find a sample letter and instructions on our website.

In June, I gathered with 1500 Episcopalians from across the church for Claiming Common Ground Against Gun Violence, a prayerful procession sponsored by Bishops United Against Gun Violence at the Episcopal Church’s General Convention. Bishop Eugene Sutton of Maryland urged the assembled crowd to understand gun violence as part of an “unholy trinity” of poverty, racism, and violence. His words gave fresh understanding and new energy to many of us struggling with the death and destruction that gun violence wreaks in our communities and our country. Our new presiding bishop-elect, Bishop Michael Curry, was among us that day, and in his benediction, he reminded us that “we are really here because there is another Trinity. A God who came to us in the person of Jesus and told us the way we live is not the only way. There is another way.” 

As hard as it can be to believe in these times when the unthinkable is routine, there is another way. Good people of faith across Illinois and the United States are working for the kind of sensible gun legislation that will help bring it about. If you are looking for ways to lend your voice, visit the Episcopalians Against Gun Violence Facebook page and the website of Bishops United Against Gun Violence for resources and advocacy information, and consider becoming involved with our CROSSwalk to Work initiative.

I am grateful to Archbishop Cupich for lending his voice and his influence to the issue, and I look forward to working together with him and the people of the Archdiocese of Chicago.


The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee
Bishop of Chicago