Cardinal Seán Patrick O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston, has been receiving both praise and criticism for his speech on Sunday regarding the Boston Marathon bombings, which touched on a number of sensitive issues America is currently dealing with.
The 68-year-old cardinal delivered a heartfelt speech at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross during Sunday mass in Boston, praising the "goodness and generosity" that the community displayed in coming together in a time of fear and uncertainty.
The mass focused heavily on the Boston Marathon bombing, which left three people dead and over 200 injured. The suspects are two young brothers – one captured and the other killed – who appeared to have been radicalized by Islam.
A point of contention, however, came up when O'Malley named America's lack of gun control as one of the factors contributing to the "culture of death," which he said is behind the violent tragedies the nation has faced in recent years.
"The individualism and alienation of our age has spawned a culture of death. Over a million abortions a year is one indication of how human life has been devalued. Violent entertainment, films and video games have coarsened us and made us more insensitive to the pain and suffering of others," O'Malley said. "The inability of the Congress to enact laws that control access to automatic weapons is emblematic of the pathology of our violent culture."
A number of Catholic commentators have since contended against the last point. The gun control issue is still being hotly debated, with President Barack Obama insisting that stricter gun control can save more lives and prevent tragedies, and some conservatives arguing that any such bills would interfere with the Second Amendment.
Phil Lawler, director and editor of Catholic Culture, wrote that "the wheels came off" when the Boston archbishop started talking about gun control, and called his message inappropriate.
"He was certainly right to warn against a blanket condemnation of all Muslims. But he missed an opportunity to comment on a problem that was surely on the minds of those who heard or read his homily. The cardinal's congregation was not (for better or worse) thinking about abortion or gun-control or video games," Lawler wrote.
One Roman Catholic blogger from the Dallas Diocese pointed out: "Finally, and the big one, Lawler notes that while O'Malley could blame everything under the sun, from video games to rap music to films to the dreaded and feared 'assault weapons,' the one thing he could not bring himself to denounce was militant Islamic terrorism, the EXACT thing that caused the attack."
As the archbishop of Boston, O'Malley has been one of the leading spiritual figures commentating on the bombing attack, and last week also spoke at an interfaith service attended by President Barack Obama.
"Like every tragedy, Monday's events are a challenge and an opportunity for us to work together with a renewed spirit of determination and solidarity and with the firm conviction that love is stronger than death," the archbishop said in his speech.