A man prays at a memorial Aug. 6 after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. (Callaghan O’Hare/Catholic News Service)
A man prays at a memorial Aug. 6 after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. (Callaghan O’Hare/Catholic News Service)

U.S. civilians own about 15 million military-style rifles. If a rifle is cared for, one bought today will be firing just fine a hundred years from now, still able to kill dozens of people people in minutes — its only purpose.

For that reason, Alex Kingsbury, a member of The New York Times editorial board, wrote on Aug. 9 that it was too late to ban assault weapons.

Perhaps that’s why the U.S. Bishops, in the tragic aftermath of the El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, shootings, eschewed their usual call to ban assault rifles and instead focused on hate. (To see the bishops’ backgrounder on guns, got to go.sentinel.org/2YUukm6.)

This time, the bishops wrote: “The anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, anti-Muslim, and anti-Semitic sentiments that have been publicly proclaimed in our society in recent years have incited hatred in our communities.” The authors were three bishops who are chairmen of committees at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

They asked our political leaders to refrain from “hurtful, painful and divisive rhetoric that dehumanizes and polarizes people on the basis of their race, religion, ethnicity or national origin.”

This is the least Americans should expect from our leaders. Anything else is evil.

“The devil divides and God always unites the community, the people,” said Pope Francis in 2018.

Hatred is Satan’s key tool. Ross Douthat, the Catholic author of “To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism,” wrote in the aftermath of El Paso and Dayton that religious people should consider that a “zest for demonization can feed a demonic element in the wider culture.”

We stand instead for Christ and love.