By Santosh Digal
Manila: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) discourages Catholic priests to carry firearms.
These recent days, the news has reported a good number of Catholic priests asking for a permit from the Philippine National Police (PNP) that they are allowed to carry firearms as, during last six months, three priests were killed.
In early June, Fr. Richmond Nilo was shot dead while about to hold mass in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija, Northern Philippines.
Nilo’s murder raised concerns among the clergy as he was the third priest to be gunned down in six months.
Last May, Fr. Mark Anthony Ventura was shot dead by an unidentified gunman after celebrating mass in Gattaran, Cagayan.
In December last year, Fr. Marcelino Paez was also shot dead after assisting in the release of a prisoner in Jaen, also in Nueva Ecija.
“I have already stated my mind on this issue some days ago through Radio Veritas, a Manila Archdiocese-run radio station, that I disagree with such manner of action – that a priest would carry firearms,” said Archbishop Romulo G. Valles of Davao, and CBCP president.
As a priest dedicated to Church and Christ, it is not appropriate for a priest to carry firearms to protect himself, he said.
“I am very much aware of the day-to-day dangers to our lives these days, especially with the killing of three priests in recent months. Together with other reported killings, we are most disturbed and deeply saddened by the death of these priests. We have strongly condemned these killings. But still, to me, it does not warrant at all that priests carry firearms. That is why we give our trust and confidence to our PNP and other related peace and order personnel in the government. We pray for them and challenge them to do their very best in this very difficult and demanding task of protecting all of us, including priests,” Msgr. Valles said.
He also strongly discourages his priests, the clergy of Davao, to seek such permission from the PNP to carry firearms.
For priests in other archdioceses, this is a matter that a priest should talk and discuss with one’s bishops and among themselves as priests – regarding the appropriateness and witness to people if one carries firearms.
“Brother priests, we should pray all the more for a deeper confidence and gratitude for the grace of ordination that we have received – that we are configured to Christ and act in His person every moment of our lives,” he said.