Baltimore newspaper, parishes mount effort to end gun violence

Gun violence in Baltimore is a major problem that poses serious dangers for the city’s residents.

In response, two of the city’s parishes are joining with The Catholic Review, newspaper of the Baltimore Archdiocese, in another “Gun Turn-In Day.”

The day is set for May 1 at St. Gregory the Great Parish on the west side of town and St. Wenceslaus Parish on the city’s east side.

A story on the newspaper’s website provides details about the program.

People who turn in weapons will receive cash: $100 for a workable automatic or semiautomatic handgun or assault rifle and $50 for any other workable gun. And no questions are asked.

All of the guns are turned over to law enforcement authorities.

The Catholic Review provided grants for the program.

Turning off the comments spigot

This struck a nerve with me too.

Deacon Greg Kandra, the Brooklyn, N.Y., uber-blogger and director of news for the Brooklyn Diocese’s cable TV channel known as NET (for New Evangelization Television), announced last night that he was turning off comments on his Beliefnet blog, at least temporarily, after a reader noted how coarse the comments have become since he moved from the less-formal Blogger over to Beliefnet, a leading site for religious news and discussion. The key comment by the reader:

They (the comments) are no longer uplifting or Gospel-centric. Indeed, the anger and the backbiting are childish — and arguably sinful.

Many in the mainstream media, including some of us at CNS, have been debating the role of comments sections for news stories and blogs. While we want to hear from readers in a Web 2.0 world, many of those who comment only want to spread vitriol. We moderate our comments and sometimes have to edit out the name-calling and other uncharitable drivel.

Deacon Greg’s rationale for turning off his comments — “Maybe a week. Maybe more,” he says — in the second half of his blog announcement is worth reading by any Christian media professional concerned with how we discuss church topics and the church’s interaction with the wider world.  As he concludes:

Among the deacon’s first words in the Mass are “Lord have mercy.”  His last are “Go in peace.”  As those words frame the celebration of the Eucharist, I want them also to frame my work here.

So, for now: Go in peace …

What do you think? Should we just drop comments altogether as Deacon Greg has?