Priest Packing Heat?

Should a priest carry a handgun? I love guns. I also love God, so much so that I am about to enter seminary. I don’t see a problem with carrying a gun as a priest, because I don’t view protecting yourself from someone as murder. I know there isn’t any canon law forbidding it, but there seems to be a stigma against handguns or priests having the ability to protect themselves.

So, thoughts? I haven’t decided one way or another on the topic. I’m definitely going to have guns as a priest, for hunting and such, but everyone knows that there is a substantial difference between a hunting gun and a protection gun.

This is a reply from this website to someone who asked the same thing you did.

bustedhalo.com/questionbox/can-a-priest-carry-a-handgun

“Holy Mother church and Jesus himself tell us to love one another, even our enemies. No way does Jesus teach, “shoot them before they shoot you.” My advice to you as a future priest? Put away the pistol. Pray more. One way to answer your prayer that you’ll “never have to use your gun” is to get rid of it. Priests depend on God, not bullets. No gun means no one gets shot. You don’t have to be the Pope or Gandhi to figure that one out.”

So are you saying that priests have a moral duty to not carry a weapon then? Why would it be okay for a cop to kill a gunman who would kill a priest rather than the priest killing him himself?

Are we worried about priests staining themselves with human blood? Priests have health insurance and go to hospitals, couldn’t the same argument against guns be used for that? What about cars? Priests could just rely on God to provide all transportation.

If we aren’t supposed to test God, why would we rely on Him to protect us when we have the power to? Isn’t refusing to carry a gun testing God? There’s a difference between a priest who couldn’t use a gun to protect himself not carrying one and a priest who can use one effectively. Shouldn’t being able to and not doing it be considered testing God?**

Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ of EWTN is a gun owner so I don’t see why not.

Our priest is an avid hunter (deer, squirrel, turkey). But, he does not have a handgun.

If you kill another human it is a canonical impediment to being ordained.

Surprised by some of the answers here.

It is just to use force to stop an unjust aggression…even if you must kill someone to do so.

The church has repeatedly reiterated this and taught it. It is not murder or a violation of the commandments to stop an unjust aggression.

Priests do not have different rules regarding this issue.

I am also quite certain there are war veterans and police officers who killed people justly and are now ordained.

Wait, isn’t the question structured to imply that the person already is ordained? :confused:

The difference you’re presenting doesn’t exist when one is in a certifiably dangerous environment. Would you advise a priest to not carry water when ministering in desert regions? After all, according to you, God provides. :shrug:

I’d rather just call for my posse and have them beat the guy up. I’ve seen it happen. :shrug: I’m pretty sure knowing who to NOT rob is a lesson worth learning too.

That was what the Swiss Guard was for, remember? Did he disband that unit when he pardoned his would-be assassin? :confused:

So are you saying I don’t have faith in God when I’m compelled to save up and earn more money to sustain myself? Or my family? :confused:

Great points!

I wonder if it would be not trusting God, or not having faith to have a fire extinguisher and use it if the rectory caught fire??

Great points, and i stand corrected with some of them. This is why i like these forums, we learn something everyday.

Though my main point here was only that some priests, go out everyday to the streets to go preach to the gangs. They dont feel like they need a gun. Why?
My guess is because they have faith in God. They havent done anything wrong, they arent scared to die (if they do) for a cause that is just. You dont hear stories of Jesus walking around with a sword cause he knew people were out to kill him. (I may be stretching it here) but why would a priest need to defend himself?

If you can help me understand why, id love to know.

EDIT: I just read this post elsewhere and i like it. It shows both sides very well.

Should a Catholic priest carry a handgun?

Priests have the right to do so, of course, like any other citizen.

But should they?

According to Phoenix police, Father Kenneth Walker was killed by a gun owned by Father Joseph Terra. Investigators say Terra was attacked after opening the kitchen door at the Mother of Mercy Mission in downtown Phoenix. He told police he went to get a handgun he kept in the nightstand next to his bed. He said that an injured finger kept him from firing at the intruder, whom police identify as Gary Michael Moran. In the struggle, Moran is accused of getting the gun away from Father Terra and shooting Father Walker.

The two priests operated in a tough part of town.

And priests have as much right to protect themselves as anyone else.

But does it seem incongruous for a priest to have a gun?

A caller who left a voicemail on my phone Monday afternoon said that an armed priest doesn’t quite match up with Matthew 26:52, in which Jesus says, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”

Times have changed. And I’ve read that the church has no overarching policy on priests and weapons. Nor does the Phoenix Diocese.

Still, the former altar boy in me can’t imagine any of the priests I met as a kid carrying a weapon.

Passing through our parish once was a priest who was said to have served as a battlefield chaplain during World War II. When asked if he was afraid to be in unarmed in a war zone he laughed and said, “I wasn’t unarmed.”

Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a rosary.

If you’re a priest in a bad neighborhood protecting orphans and battered women at the shelter (sounds like a show on Fox) then maybe you can arm yourself on the grounds that your task is to protect the flock from all sorts of wolves.

But otherwise it just doesn’t feel right to me. The fact that you have some natural hesitation when you think about being an armed priest should tell you what you need to know. Trust your gut.

Go to seminary. You can always carry your handgun later if that’s what you still want. But consult with some of your professors and priests about the issue and see what they think.

I’m not convinced about this, especially the water in the desert point… to carry water certainly doesn’t risk lives, and the point about the guards to the Pope… he is a public figure so a far greater target. There are many citizens who don’t carry weapons, and although a priest has the same right as anybody else to carry a gun if he so chooses, I think he should think about the morality of doing so. To carry a weapon is to have intention to use it because if a person carrying a gun is attacked, their natural instinct would be to pull the weapon out and shoot.

Jesus taught us to love our enemies, forgive their offenses, turn the other cheek. And most people who get attacked get injured, not killed. I believe a priest should trust in God rather than their gun. If a priest dies in service of God, think of the reward he would receive. Our focus really shouldn’t be all about this life… we should focus on the next one. Living with a death on your hands wouldn’t be an easy thing, I imagine.

I hope you don’t mind if I share the following with you that I believe may help -

I hope this has helped

God Bless

Thank you for reading
Josh

My bishop said priests are not allowed handguns. Could be a New York thing,considering we
have more litigation per square foot and numerous handgun laws that will put you in jail.And it’s always been difficult to obtain a handgun license in NY .Only ones I know who get handguns here are law enforcement and business owners.

I really really really don’t see what’s wrong with this. If I recall, the FSSP priests in Phoenix had a gun. The older one retrieved it but was unable to fire it, I think. The younger one did die.

Anyway no I don’t think it’s wrong for a priest to have a handgun.

Jesus’ whole message was love, forgiveness and sacrifice. A priest is someone who has dedicated his whole life to walk the path with Jesus.

Matthew 16: 24-25 'Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.’

Matthew 10: 28 ‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear Him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell.’

1 John 4: 18 ’ In love there is no fear, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear implies punishment and no one who is afraid has come to perfection in love.’

1 John 4: 20 …‘since no one who fails to love the brother whom he can see can love God whom he has not seen.’

It’s not my place to say that a Priest cannot carry a weapon… I’m saying that a Priest should think about the morality of doing so… and look at their own conscience for guidance.

This is from a letter written to me by my dear friend, who I will call Father Roy.

My dear friend, it has been a very trying and terrifying few days. I can not tell you how many times I have been shot at, how many times I have been turned away, nor can I tell you how many times I have been welcomed lovingly into homes where father or mother or sister or brother is dying from this warfare. My heart breaks to see God’s children this way. You ask whether I defend myself–I promise you, I am defended ultimately by our Father. Did Jesus attack his attackers? Surely not. My job is not to remove the sinners, my job is to stand bold against the darkness of night. I know with everything that I am that God will care for me even if that means I die here. I heard someone say this place has been forsaken by God. Forgotten. I know it hasn’t. He is here, and He is weeping with me.

At the end of the letter was the following note, written in different pen.

It is with deepest sorrow that I write this, but Fr. Roy was shot and killed yesterday afternoon prior to sending this letter. Please keep him in your prayers, and keep all of us in your prayers as well. Blessings, Father —

I don’t share this letter to seem melodramatic, I just thought it was fitting to the conversation.

You shouldn’t make such assumptions like this, especially in matters of dangerous neighborhoods where one’s protection can come more than in the form of a firearm.

Yes I do.

He said to them, But now one who has a money bag should take it, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one. - Luke 22:36

Apparently you’ve never fought over water before.

This is nonsense. I don’t need to play Assassin’s Creed to know that targeting a public figure means targeting that and only that target alone. The guards main objective is to protect the Pope. Sure they protect the citizens while they’re at it but it’s not the citizens who really need as much protection as a prominent figure. What point are you even trying to make here? :confused:

And clearly, JP2 knew as much. Otherwise, why is the Swiss Guard still standing? Because protection doesn’t just have to come in the form of what you conceal in your pocket but neither should you think extraordinary moments of divine intervention are be-all-end-all substitute for sensible precaution.

So I’m guessing we should permit abortion because think of the reward an infant in heaven would receive since they did not spend so much time in this oh-so-rotten world.

Like you, there’s something I’m not buying: It’s the idea that God’s will is somehow a substitute for common sense.

Maybe if you replaced thugs with demons and vampires, you’d have a different opinion no? :wink: Because really, since plenty of religious are all about using very combative language against neo-pagan practices, yoga, and New Age, I’m no longer so unnerved at the thought of them taking up any sort of arms. They fancy themselves in a war with the Guy Downstairs already. :shrug:

Hmm… I think you should tell that to all the men who served in the armed forces prior to entering seminary. :wink:

(Actually, the impediment is having committed voluntary homicide. Subtle, but important, difference… )

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.