SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:
Chris Borland is another athlete who's taking a stand, and he's asking other athletes to join him. He's a former NFL player who grew up in Kettering, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton. After the mass shootings there and in El Paso and in Gilroy, Calif., he wrote an open letter to the archbishop of Cincinnati urging the Catholic Church to, quote, "lead as Christ would." I asked Borland why he wanted to single out the Catholic Church...
CHRIS BORLAND: It's what I know, and I grew up within the church. And I see a concerning lack of assertiveness in addressing what's going on in our country. And to have, you know, what happened in Dayton be met with what I'd consider just the minimal reaction thoughts and prayers to me isn't enough.
PFEIFFER: What exactly do you want the church to do?
BORLAND: To firstly name and condemn white supremacy - two of the three terrorist attacks were carried out in the name of white supremacy. Secondly, to frame gun control for what it is, a pro-life stance. And thirdly, to hold accountable politicians who are parishioners who use the lord's name and talk about God in Christ to get elected and then don't act once in office and embody those values.
PFEIFFER: Last week, the archbishop of San Antonio, Texas, on Twitter was critical of President Trump. He said to him, stop your hatred. And he got heavily criticized for that - the archbishop did - kind of had to backtrack a little. If the archbishop and a part of the country that's been right at the center of both the crisis on the border and now this attack can't come out strongly and explicitly call out people that he thinks are promoting racism and violence, do you think it's realistic to expect other Catholic leaders to do the same?
BORLAND: I don't know that it's realistic. This may be entirely naive. I've emailed and called and left messages to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, you know, a half dozen or more over the past few days, and have gotten minimal response. So we do have a lot of power in the voice and the numbers of athletes that have competed in the greater Catholic League and we're going to start there. Maybe it falls on deaf ears, but I think it's better than doing nothing.
PFEIFFER: You mentioned that you're trying to build a coalition in a sense of other athletes with prominent public platforms to speak out and join you. Have you been able to get other professional athletes to join you in calling out the Catholic Church?
BORLAND: It's starting. We've had a few, you know, retweet and like the tweets that I put out a couple days ago. You know, there's a handful of text conversations between men and women that have played at a high-level and email chains. And we're figuring out the best way to do that. But the sad nature of gun violence in America and of hatred is that if you wait very long, there's likely be another atrocity. So although it's imperfect right now, we want to act and figure this out as we go. But, you know, when it happens in your backyard, you have to do something.
PFEIFFER: That's Chris Borland, a former NFL linebacker who grew up in Dayton. We reached out to the Cincinnati Archdiocese for comment on Borland's letter, and we were told that the archbishop has read it but hasn't yet sent Borland a formal response. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.