Jesuit Says Real Issues Must Be Addressed in Wake of Newtown Shooting

Jesuit Father Greg BoyleIn the aftermath of the Newtown school shooting, Jesuit Father Greg Boyle cautions against looking at the tragedy from too distant a perspective. Looking at this from “an aerial view of nonviolence oddly keeps us from solutions,” Fr. Boyle told the National Catholic Reporter.

“In the same way the [Connecticut] governor said, ‘A great evil visited this community today,’ well, actually, armed mental illness visited your community that day. This is what keeps us from addressing actual issues,” said Fr. Boyle, who has worked with gang members in Los Angeles since 1988 through his Homeboy Industries ministry, which is the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the U.S.

“When we take our views lower, we know we need to address guns and we need to address mental illness,” Fr. Boyle said. “The elephant in the room is mental health, which is something I see more and more with the gang population with whom I work.”

Fr. Boyle also told the National Catholic Reporter that the nation’s mental health care system is in desperate need of rehabilitation. According to Fr. Boyle, because of national, state and local government budget cuts made in recent years, today’s health care system is essentially the same as it was in 1850.

Fr. Boyle said mental health facilities have one bed for every 7,000 patients, and as a result the nation’s prisons, skid rows and homeless shelters are filled with the mentally ill.

“The largest mental health facility in the world is the Los Angeles county jail,” Fr. Boyle said. “These are examples that show we are not actually dealing with the real issues.”

5 Responses to “Jesuit Says Real Issues Must Be Addressed in Wake of Newtown Shooting”

  • chris douglass:

    Greg Boyle’s comments ring very true. It takes someone like Greg, who has been in the trenches for many years, to know what the real issue is. It is easy to enact laws but it is very difficult to get down and dirty with the problems like Fr. Greg.

  • kim:

    Bravo, Fr. G! Keep speaking the truth and living in the Light!Please know that many people pray for you.

  • joe palmisano. sr:

    THE MOTHER OF THE BOY FROM NEWTOWN KNEW THEIR WAS A PROBLEM WITH HER SON.THE QUESTION IS WHAT WAS DONE TO HELP THE KID, NOTHING. LET ALONE THE GUNS WERE EASILY AVAILABLE TO HIM.WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING FOR MENTAL HEALTH IN AMERICA.WE SEE PROBLEMS EVERYWHERE. FATHER GREG IS CORRECT WITH THIS ISSUE.

  • Ann Galluzzo:

    Perhaps creating Al-Anon meetings would be useful to expand Mental Health needs. Folks who initially attend 4 or more meetings a week experience amazing improvement and healing in their thoughts and lives. Having attended for about 6 months, I’ve been amazed! The approved literature and learning from the life stories is so healing.

  • Dear Ann,
    Al-Anon is a wonderful 12-Step program formed to help those affected by the disease of ALCOHOLISM of a loved one. Some people confuse this program and think it is a group therapy for individuals suffering from mental illness. Al-Anon is NOT a catch all. Again, it is not appropriate for anyone to attended a closed Al-Anon meeting unless they are there to learn how to deal with their own emotional turmoil about dealing with, enabling, and attempting to control someone’s alcoholism. I encourage you to speak with a long time member in your group. Of course, there are people that attend with co-occurring issues and the steps can help with that. Please understand that I am only trying to be helpful. You can look at the Traditions and see further explanation. Al-Anon does not treat or diagnose anyone. It is not conducted by any professional therapist and there is no professional oversight. In other words, I could conduct an Al-Anon meeting in my home if I wanted to with a couple of people. I am pleased you are involved and receiving what you need. However, please understand that Al-Anon is not a mental health organization. Please contact world services for Al-Anon or AA if you have any further questions.