From a reader:
Are priests allowed to carry handguns? I have heard stories of priests owning guns, going hunting, etc, but could a priest have a handgun, conceal and carry, etc? What do you think about a priest having a handgun underneath his vestments while saying Mass?
In short, yes. Priests and bishops can carry hand guns, according to the laws of the place where they live. Priests are not second class citizens. They are – right now at least – not prohibited by laws of the state or laws of the Church.
Should bishops carry hand guns? That is another question.
I have been over this territory elsewhere. There are arguments on both sides.
About carrying a handgun while saying Mass… I am neutral on that point. It is wrong for a priest or bishop to say Mass with his wallet in his back pocket? Money can be misused, after all. Can he have his smart phone in his pocket? A pocket knife on his key ring? You can do bad things with smart phones or knives or keys.
On the other hand, it is a little hard to get at your handgun when you are wearing vestments. So, what difference does it make?
At this point I know the readers are going to remind us of the liturgical beretta, which is a different can of beans.
Maybe I could create a private, member-only, cleric-only discussion about which weapons are best.
Also, anyone who considers carrying a concealed weapon has to give serious thought to whether or not it is a good option for him. Perhaps an electronic gadget is a better option, perhaps pepper-spray. A handgun is a serious choice.
I can hear some of you know shouting, “But Father! But Father!”… perhaps accompanied by some hand-wringing and spittle flecks starting to shoot from your mouths… “A bishop or priest should never ever carry a handgun! Hand guns SHOOT people! No… wait… people shoot people… okay. Still… a bishop or priest should never under any circumstance or imaginable scenario shoot anyone or anything for any reason. You should all let yourselves and any innocent members of the flock entrusted to you be victimized or killed. After all, shepherds let their sheep be stolen, wounded or eaten by predators all the time and so should you!”
I don’t know that bishops or priests shouldn’t defend themselves or the innocent. As a matter of fact, perhaps we can argue that priests and bishops have an even greater obligation to defend themselves because of the shortage of priests and bishops… well… maybe not so much bishops. No priests, no sacraments. This may be a huge issue in the case of a catastrophic collapse of the world as we know it.
Seriously, there are arguments on both sides.
Finally, maybe it would be a good idea for all priest and bishops to obtain concealed carry weapon licenses. The screwballs who have it in mind to threaten or attack a priests – and who perhaps send priests ugly mail including photos of their houses – can then wonder whether Father is armed today or not.