By Leslie Ann Aquino
Catholic priests who want to carry firearms should seek permission from their respective bishops, a Catholic prelate said.
Caloocan Bishop Pablo David said this is because no bishop will allow their priests to carry guns.
He said this following the revelation made by the Philippine National Police that it has received more than 200 applications from members of the religious sector such as priests to carry guns outside their residences.
“Those priests themselves are duty-bound to seek permission from their bishops to carry firearms. Let’s see if there’s a single bishop who would allow them to do so,” he said in an interview.
“I think even the priests serving in the Military Ordinariate need their bishop’s permission to carry firearms,” added David.
On Wednesday, the Philippine National Police Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde revealed that out of the more than 200 applications, 188 are from priests.
But he said they have no immediate information if the priests who applied for the permits to carry were facing death threats.
Still, retired Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez said having a death threat is not enough reason for priest to carry a gun.
“No. Trust God not guns,” he said.
In the past, Bishop David said a priest who wants to carry a gun for self-protection might want to consider leaving the priesthood and join the police or military instead.
“They might want to consider leaving the priesthood and joining the police or the military instead,” said David in a Facebook post.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines led by its president Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles already rejected the idea of priest arming themselves despite the recent killing of three priests saying priests are supposed to be men of peace, not violence.
“We are men of God, men of the Church and it is part of our ministry to face dangers, to face deaths if one may say that way. But we would do it just what Jesus did,” he said.
The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) also do not believe that arming themselves against would-be assassins is necessary.
PCEC Director Noel Pantoja said that while they have yet to come up with a statement on the matter, their ranks have always believed that pastors should just be men of peace.
“This will only attract violence as violence attracts violence,” said the PCEC leader.
“Carrying guns won’t be necessary as it is the Lord who will protect us,” added Pantoja.