Gun-toting priests

>> Sunday, June 24, 2018


Bishops on June 17criticized priests who carry guns for their personal safety, as certain quarters have proposed arming clergymen in the face of recent killings of men of the  cloth.
This prompted Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David to say gun-toting priests might want to consider leaving the priesthood and joining the police or the military instead.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas added, "Would Christ do that? The Lord said to Peter, “Put back your sword to its scabbard. Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.'"
The proposal to arm clergymen surfaced after a 3rd priest was killed in less than seven months.
Father Richmond Nilo, 43, was shot by unidentified killers inside a chapel in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija, as he was preparing to say Mass on June 10. A suspect was arrested. Two other priests – Father Marcelito Paez and Father Mark Ventura – were slain before Nilo's death.
In relation to the proposal to arm priests, a national daily reported "some priests in Laguna are secretly acquiring firearms for protection against would-be assassins" but David said, "We don't even have to dwell on the morality of it. It is unpriestly, to say the least."
David, vice president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said some priests may need some serious counselling for opting to carry a gun for personal protection.
Other leaders of the Catholic Church have also opposed the proposal to arm priests.
In an interview with Church-run Radyo Veritas, CBCP president Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles said he "would strongly oppose" the proposal to arm priests.
"We are men of God, men of the Church, and it is part of our ministry to face dangers," Valles said. "But we would do just as Jesus did."
Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Florencio, apostolic administrator of the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines, also thumbed down the proposal to arm clergymen.
"It will create more chaos. It will not solve anything," Florencio said, as quoted by CBCP News.  More Catholics showed outrage against the killings of priests as President Rodrigo Duterte continued what they called "verbal persecution" of the Catholic Church.
In a separate statement, the Order of Carmelites said "a culture of impunity emboldens those who commit these atrocities."
The Carmelite priests said this is "especially disturbing" especially because majority of Filipinos, including government officials, "profess to be followers of Christ."
"We also appeal for President Duterte to stop his caustic and divisive remarks that harass Church people, human rights workers, and other persons who have dedicated their lives in realizing kaginhawahan (comfort) for the least, the lost, the neglected, and the forgotten. Now is a time for sober reflection and respectful conduct," the Order of Carmelites said.
Antipolo Bishop Francisco de Leon said, "The killing of any person is reprehensible but more reprehensible is the killing of any priest simply because his life and priesthood are gifts from God."
"The killers played god. That is idolatry. One day the killers will be judged," De Leon said.


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