I am a lifelong Christian in the process of going through RCIA at the parish I have recently been attending. I am also a sworn deputy sheriff with one of the local sheriff’s departments. Today, I had to wear my uniform to Mass for the first time – with my weapon. I had little choice because of an obligation I had that was scheduled to start very shortly after Mass, and with RCIA immediately before Mass and something going on the previous night, noon Mass was just about my only option.
On my way out of Mass, the priest commented very disapprovingly (and somewhat publicly so) on the fact that I wore my weapon into the sanctuary. I explained to him that I cannot and would not wear, as I described it, the “big blue target” (my uniform) without the weapon – and wearing the uniform was unavoidable today. While I did not add this, I am loathe to walk into any church, Catholic or Protestant, without a weapon due to the multiple issues that have occurred across the country. I have, on many occasions, worn a weapon into the sanctuary in plain clothes. The weapon was always concealed, so this was apparently the first time the priest realized I was a police officer and carried weapons. I thought we had talked about it but perhaps we had not.
Is there any basis or precedent in the Church for the extreme disapproval I received from wearing the weapon into the sanctuary? As a law enforcement officer in this state, I am legally authorized to carry on church grounds, but I don’t want to “go against” the Church if it is considered a really bad thing. I do understand the priest has the authority over his parish, and if he wants to hold that firm line for his parish, I may have to find another parish. If it is a Church-wide doctrine, I may have to re-think my decision to join because I consider this a major deal for me.