UK: Clergy warned not to wear distinctive collars

Fr-Hamel12-540x300It’s coming to a neighborhood near you.

Via Express:

Vicars told ‘don’t wear dog collars in public’ over fears jihadists are planning attacks

Worries knife-wielding ISIS jihadists will target churches were raised by experts and revealed by churchmen.

New counter-terrorism advice is being urgently issued to vicars and churches across the UK this week over fears an attack on British Christians is now likely.

The new security measures follow the murder of a priest by two Islamic State killers in France last month, amid fears a similar attack could now happen in the UK.

Experts warned a terrorist attack on churches “is coming”.

Places of worship in the UK, which are ‘easy targets’ for jihadists, are now being urged to take precautions and increase security.

A document called Counter Terrorism Advice for Churches urged religious leaders to prepare for terror strikes and to be on alert for attackers, who are likely to be armed with knives.

ISIS has threatened Christians before and has launched an effective genocide against the faith in lands it has seized in the Middle East.

Last Sunday Catholic Priest Albert Pandiangan was stabbed during by an ISIS-inspired knifeman during mass in Indonesia – who then tried to detonate an explosive device but failed.

Catholic priest Jacques Hamel, 85, had his throat slit by knife-wielding monsters wearing fake explosive belts when he was taken hostage at his church in Normandy on July 26.

The slaying has prompted guidance to be rewritten for religious institutions in the UK.

Ex-police officer Nick Tolson, who has advised the Home Office on counter-terrorism measures since 2012, has drafted the new tougher security recommendations.

He told the Mirror: ”Since the French attack we have to look at the possibility of an attack on a church in this country.

The risk level has gone up.

“Churches in the past were considered low risk – now we know an attack is coming… and churches are one of the easy targets.

“It’s likely to be a knife – not a machine gun, but we are covering that too.”

Read the rest there.

It could be a good idea to have a discussion about security at your parish.

Sts. Nunilo and Alodia, pray for us.
St. Lawrence of Brindisi, pray for us.
St. Pius V, pray for us.
Martyrs of Otranto, pray for us.
Our Lady of Victory, intercede for us with Christ the High Priest.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Semper Paratus, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, The Religion of Peace and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Fr_Marc says:

    Hah! I bet that Fr. Richard Heilman, the “Q” of Catholicism, is already working on a steel-enforced roman collar in his top secret underground laboratory. Most likely, it will come in a set together with a special Cappello Romano, Oddjob style…

  2. Fr. A.M. says:

    The BBC did an interesting report on this but can’t find the link. An Anglican spokesman – or spokesmen – actually spoke well about the continuing importance of wearing clerical dress. It is worrying, but Catholic priests should still give public witness to Christ and His Church by wearing clerical dress. Lord increase our faith and trust in you.I would be annoyed if the liberals used it as an excuse to stop clerical dress being worn in public.That would mark a new and more dreadful stage in the current war against the Church in Western society.

  3. tealady24 says:

    Better start looking for those priest-holes again and go hide yourself. No, actually go show yourself as a follower of Jesus Christ! Has BO heard of this, he might want to get on it before he leaves office. (What a joke that, and the joke was on us!)

  4. Joseph-Mary says:

    The barbarians want others to live in fear. We are not to do so! Even though many in the
    Church voluntarily removed collars and habits, that was a mistake. The witness is ever imperative, no matter the cost.

  5. crownvic says:

    Some years ago I had a gentleman who worked for me who was employed for a large Protestant church. We were discussing pistols and he mentioned his .357 that he used to carry at work. Naive me asked why he had to carry at the church. He instructed me about the numerous death threats the pastor receives and said he was one of six men who sat near the front of the church, armed, for security. They also had others around the perimeter who were armed. I imagine this church still has that level of security.

    So exactly how does one mention security concerns to their local Priest?

  6. iPadre says:

    Better to give a martyrs witness than to give even a micro to these barbarians. “Duc in altum!”

  7. LarryW2LJ says:

    So, Great Britain ……. how’s that “Love of Diversity” and multiculturalism working our for you?

  8. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    That Express article refers to an interview with the Mirror, but gives no link. Does anyone know if ‘Counter Terrorism Advice for Churches’ is available online, and, if so, where, and if not, how can one order a copy (for, again, no link was given!)? ( lists two relevant-looking earlier Nick Tolson publications, both “Currently unavailable”!)

  9. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    A publication which I did find online and which is worth reading is:

  10. KateD says:

    There is something very powerful about the presence of a priest in his clerical attire. We had a dear priest who always wore his cassock and big honking demon banishing crucifix when he went out in public. Granted he’s a saint, by all accounts, but….isn’t that where we are all trying to get?

    Has it ever been safe to be a disciple of Christ? Let alone one of his priests, a general in His army? I’d argue that they have always been targets of attack.

    I remember one time when we went to the movies in a college town with the aforementioned priest. People stopped and looked, but more than that, it gave them pause. For a moment in their evening of secular hedonism, they stopped and remembered that there is indeed a God and He would hold them responsible for the events of the night…and here was one of His priests, with the authority to remove that awful weight of sin from one’s shoulders. For a moment they caught a glimpse of true freedom. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, yet I can’t help but think attendance was up at local churches the following Sunday….and that provided an opportunity for those people to restore their relationship with their Heavenly Father.

    It’s uncomfortable to have an area go silent and have all eyes on you, but did you become a priest to be comfortable and safe? Even if it’s only a handful of strangers that are moved by the sight of you, aren’t they worth it? How many more people can you preach to without ever even saying a word?

    There may be a time when the Church is suppressed by Western governments, which will require priests to don their civvies. In the mean time I don’t believe it’s prudent to cede the battlefield so easily.

    Yes, it’s bad. But it will get worse much quicker and many more souls will be lost if we give the field to the enemy prematurely…

    These are Catholic priests in…England. Certainly they have the mettle and pluck.

  11. Fr. John says:

    The previous pastor of my parish had allowed a few CPL holders to carry when they attend Holy Mass. I have allowed this to continue. I suspect at least some of these very good people would carry (concealed of course) even if I were to request that they not do so any longer.
    Any further suggestions would be welcomed!

  12. Tradster says:

    This warning is obviously premature and just right-wing scaremongering. After all, in most (all?) of cases of Muslims attacking Christian clergy, the police have not been able to identify the motive.

    And, yes, I am being sarcastic.

  13. chantgirl says:

    We should not worry about martyrdom (in fact it would be an amazing gift to go straight to Heaven after dying for the name of Christ!), but we should be worried about staying in a state of grace.

    In America where we are still allowed some reasonable means of self defense, I am more concerned about an Orlando type attack or a suicide bomber striking during a crowded Mass than a lone knife attacker. Many children and elderly would likely suffer the worst. In that sort of scenario, Fr. John, you’ll probably be happy that those concealed carry guys are around! In fact, in a situation like that, it is imperative that the men in the pews protect the priest so that he can minister to the wounded and dying, and to protect the Eucharist from abuse.

  14. Catholic_Convert2 says:

    Not to sound belligerent, or as if I WANT to use force — I do not– but:

    I am a person who carries a tuned GLOCK 17 with two spare magazines everywhere I go (and I mean *everywhere*), and I do not ask for permission (this includes from my priest who, I hope, wouldn’t ask for permission to give me last rites of I was dying– he wouldn’t be much of a priest if he did).

    That’s 52 rounds of 9mm, or 18 seconds of ‘combat time’. That’s 125 yards of suppression and movement, inside of which a lot can be accomplished.

    I do this, because this is MY vocation. No, I’m not a police officer (though I’ve trained many of them). No, I’m not “former military”, which suggests a knowledge of combat similar to someone describing themselves as a “former college student” suggests any degree of intellect.

    I wear many hats in this world, as we all do. Husband, father, business owner, parishioner. And yet since my very first memories, I’ve always known that this particular vocation, a practitioner of violence for the protection of the True and Good, would be the vocation whose tenets would always come to me most naturally.

    Why do I say all this? Because this article has me wanting to wear a priest collar around London for a few weeks.

    It is such a shame that by the laws of nature violence finds those who are least prepared for it. I do not want to fight, but I have to believe I was made who I am because fighting is a reality of this fallen world. May God send 10 jihadists my way for ever one sent to a priest.

  15. MarkJ says:

    Our parish men’s group meets every First Saturday for Mass, breakfast and either a talk or an activity. This month’s activity is to go to the local firing range to learn how to handle a firearm… signs of the times… St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!

  16. visigrad says:

    Prayers for prudence, courage and long lines for confession !!!

  17. Andrew_81 says:


    Why do we clergy not get your standard and wise advice…

    Fathers, GO TO CONFESSION.

    The best preparation for the jihadis is to be ready to pray for their souls in heaven when they come for us.

  18. Huber says:

    When Father dons his biretta, the laity should don their Berettas…

  19. Fuerza says:

    It would be a great shame if priests had to hide who they were just to remain safe. I carry a firearm virtually everywhere I go. As a police officer I consider it my responsibility to be able to protect innocent victims from violence at all times. I typically carry my snub-nose .38 in an IWB holster, completely concealable even with a tucked in shirt, and therefore no risk of distracting others at Mass. As the weather gets cold enough to keep my jacket on even inside the church building I may transition back to my full sized service weapon. Many law enforcement officers that I know do the same, but I personally wish that more law-abiding citizens would avail themselves of the proper training and obtain a pistol permit. I don’t care what statistics certain individuals with a political agenda put out, in my personal experience areas with higher amounts of permit holders have lower violent crime rates.

  20. Vincent says:

    Having received similar warnings about wearing my ID badge outside work, I wouldn’t be hugely surprised if clergy are being told similar things, along with other “target groups”. Be vigilant, don’t take unnecessary risks, and go to confession. (My three point plan)

  21. Muv says:

    “Why do I say all this? Because this article has me wanting to wear a priest collar around London for a few weeks.”

    By all means go ahead and please let us know how you get on. You could start off by nipping into the local Anglican Primary School in Brick Lane, taking a stroll to Underwood Road to St. Anne’s RC Church, then having a leisurely amble back to Brick Lane for a hearty Bengali curry.

    There again, if you carry a GLOCK 17 and two spare magazines of ammunition with you everywhere you go, then London isn’t the place you for you to exercise your so-called vocation.

  22. Pigeon says:

    “You had better wash and pack. Brother Sylvester will drive you to the airport in the morning. Don’t wear your habit.”

    “Why may I not wear the habit?”

    “There have been incidents in Rome. Priests and nuns spat on and physically attacked. It’s growing more frequent.”

    “What if there is someone on my journey who needs to confess? If he sees a priest he may be moved to ask for help. Can we deny him the opportunity?”

    The prior looked at the floor and thought.

    “As usual, you are right, Elijah. Wear your habit.”

  23. Henry Edwards says:

    When might Catholic identity, and the public display of it, be more important than now? All the more reason for priests to show not only Roman collars but also cassocks when they venture out.

  24. SKAY says:

    This administration has just brought in 10,000 immigrants from Syria. Forty seven are Christians.

    One candidate has promised to bring in tens of thousands more immigrants who cannot be vetted properly from countries with ties to terrorism as well as keeping wide open borders.

    ISIS has promised to infiltrate these immigrants and I take them at their word.
    I would say that the chances of Christian churches and particularly Catholic churches being attacked has increased quite a bit even now but Hillary’s promise of many more (I saw a estimate of 1 million in 4 years) by the end of four years will guarantee the loss of Christianity’s religious freedom as we
    have known it.
    We are seeing some of that now through mandates from this adminstration.
    The release of the hacked Soros emails has shown where his money has gone and why. He is an atheist so his donations to Catholic organizations is not about religion but it is about
    manipulation toward his Open Society goals. Flooding this country with immigrants from the middle east to overwhelm our ability to cope with it is a goal.

    We do still have a choice.

    Thank you again Cardinal Burke.

  25. Elizium23 says:

    Vicars are told this by whom? “Counter-terror chiefs”? Who cares! This has no force of law. Even if it were the law of the land, I would expect a call for disobedience from Catholic bishops. I hope priests (and ministers and vicars) all wear more and more recognizable clerical garb, and that they do it more often and more publicly. Let’s separate the sheep from the goats, or would that be separating the shepherds from the goatherds?

  26. pseudomodo says:

    Imagine the audacity of telling certain people what to or what not to wear!!

    The French Supreme Court will overturn that in no time!

  27. PhilipNeri says:

    Imaginary headline: “Women warned not to dress provocatively due to increased threats of rape”

    Just imagine the outrage this would cause. . .

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  28. jcocucci says:

    Thanks, Fr John, for the posting. Keep in mind that the document in question goes back to 2009. I wonder if there are updates available.

  29. lairdangusmcangus says:

    I have said it before, but it is worth repeating in light of this story: we need to form a new Catholic lay order of ex-police and ex-military whose sole purpose is to provide protection to our churches and holy places. In every parish in this country (and in most others), there are Catholic men who have been trained in security and protection, are authorized to carry firearms, and would GLADLY risk their lives to protect their brothers and sisters in Christ.

    If Rome authorized such an order, its rolls would be filled within hours.

    The Church Militant is sorely in need of some manly vocations! Deus Vult!

  30. Kathleen10 says:

    Now we do see that George Soros has purchased the rights to flood our nations with Muslims or any other damn thing he wants, so, in they keep coming! Safety of the citizens or priests is not a consideration any longer. We flat out don’t matter.

  31. The Astronomer says:

    How do we protect our pastors & priests here in New Jersey, where getting a CCL is next to impossible? My pastor, the mighty Fr. Hesko of St. Catherine Laboure would likely not be ‘comfortable’ knowing an armed parishioner was seated near the front of the congregation, but given the abominable state of the RC church here in NJ, we need all of the orthodox-thinking and acting priests we can find. I travel @28 miles each way to church because I’m tired hearing of local Church of Nice priests tell me the “Islam is a religion of peace,” and that “ISIS-style violence can’t happen here because the NJ Muslim community is so peaceful at heart.” (Notwithstanding that the plotters of the first World Trade Center attack lived and worshiped in and around Jersey City).

    I’m not an average layman, but a former member of a government agency that knows how to properly deploy and use a handheld firearm. I will put myself between my pastor (or any other innocent for that matter) and the bad guy(s). We need to prepare….the shrill scream of the Ancient Beast is already on our shores and in increasing numbers.

    I don’t merit martyrdom and dhimmitude is not an option.

    St. Michael the Archangel pray for us.

  32. Kerry says:

    Catholic_Convert2, CZ P-01 dittos, with a Kahr on the side.
    Keep your powder dry and have lots of powder.

  33. Manducat in the hat says:

    Each Sunday, our TLM has no less than 10% of the congregation concealing during Mass. Every other weekend for High Mass, a handful are perched up in the choir loft. It’s Texas, so they don’t need the pastor/bishop’s say-so. Even if they mounted the massive signs required by law, concealed is concealed.

  34. Andrew D says:

    I am not a priest but they’ll be serving snow cones in hell before I even think about removing the Miraculous Medal from around my neck, openly praying the Rosary on my monthly airline flights, and when the opportunity arises, telling people how Catholicism is the One True Church and islam is from hell. If I be martyred because of my stubborness and allergic reaction to political correctness, I pray I get to Heaven.

  35. KateD says:

    Harrison Ford was ahead of his time….

  36. KateD says:

    I have a friend who is preparing her heart so that when/if these attrocities reach our shores, she can remain faithful to Christ and not loose Heaven by succumbing to hatred.

    I feel confident that I can defend my family, my friends, my priest and maintain God’s friendship. I will be less inclined toward hatred, and better able to pray for those who attempt violence, if they are unsuccessful and if those I care for remain unharmed.

  37. JustaSinner says:

    Tell them to wear lightweight body armor. For you, maybe some stab resistance vest under your vestments? Maybe Fr. Z can put up a donation box for second chance vests for Priests in Dangerous Areas?

  38. aliceinstpaul says:

    You start by finding out who in the parish is a LEO or is a retired LEO. Then you start asking them about policemen ot other related affiliates who would be willing to help with security, either do soldering being hired as off duty cops themselves at various events, or by finding people who could be hired.

  39. WmHesch says:

    American clerical garb was patterned after Protestants in our ill-fated attempt to assimilate… As was Britain’s when we sealed up the priest-holes.

    We mustn’t run from the enemy. And if we’re going to revive birettas in the sanctuary- make sure they’re covering a true, man-made TONSURE that accompanies the cleric into the streets.

  40. Catholic_Convert2 says:


    This year, you fear and despise me. Next year, after I run for and win the election for sheriff, you will say, “oh good- I’m glad to have him and people like him at my disposal by calling for help.”

    Look at how much faith you put in a flimsy badge, when – since I will not change from one day to the next – it says nothing of character or reliability.

    The truth is that my fellow Americans are safer because the 12 million people like me are allowed to live our vocation; we white blood cells of society. Why remove the fangs from your men? In the end, it doesn’t matter. We will continue going our way, and you, yours.

  41. Semper Gumby says:

    Fr. John wrote: “Any further suggestions would be welcomed!”

    Fr. John: Fr. Z had an excellent post and combox on Church Security on Dec. 22, 2015. Fr. Z also had several book recommendations in his post.

    If I may add Fr. John (and with Fr. Z’s permission as this is a bit of a digression), please see the Government Security News website and the FBI website for information on the Osage Baptist Church Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Incident. (Not to be alarming here, but just for contingency purposes.) The device, disguised as a Pepsi can, was disarmed by the bomb squad. This incident involves public use of the church for polling, and the IED was apparently discovered by the church receptionist.

  42. Fr Mark Elliott Smith says:

    My impression is that most of the clergy I talk to would rather eat wasps than forgo the collar or any conspicuous marks of our vocation. In any event, I would have thought that any attack (which God forbid) would be likely to take place in a church, rather than on the streets, where concealment is, shall we say, tricky. We have installed CCTV, however!

  43. Kerry says:

    MUV said, “let us know how you get on.” For who do you collectively speak?
    You did not ask me if I may be included in that “us”. For whom can you speak besides yourself?
    That “Ex-police officer … has advised the Home Office on counter-terrorism measures since 2012” (and) “… has drafted the new tougher security recommendations” has accomplished what? Fine words butter no parsnips, nor stop incoming rounds, nor ax assaults.. And now they suggest further cowering in public? And “tougher”, what’s that? Pointier words with more syllables? Printed on Kevlar paper? “Action today!” Instead of Orwell’s “rough men”, perhaps Tolkien: It will certainly mean fighting. You won’t rescue… the Shire just be being shocked and sad my dear Frodo.

  44. un-ionized says:

    This is not a call to arms but a call to faith. Christians have never been called upon to walk around instantly ready to off somebody and looking to do so. Impersonating a priest in order to pick a fight? Nah.

  45. tominrichmond says:

    I would hope our priests not only continue to wear their collar, but also clothe themselves with the Beretta (or any other firearm of their choice).

    Martyrdom may come, but we have a responsibility to fight, even literally, to preserve the Faith.

    Some Catholic laity should, as we have in our parish for a long time, discreetly carry firearms, after being trained in their use, and be prepared to deploy them when the time comes. There is no virtue in helplessly watching your pastor have his throat cut or in watching a maniac kill your innocent children and old women.

  46. Melissa Johnson says:

    What if the early martyrs had only drawn their swords instead of going placidly to their deaths in the arena? What did Christ say to Peter when Peter cut off the servant’s ear? I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with concealed carry OR hiding your faith.

    For me, I have my weapons: the Rosary and the Eucharist. “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.” It’s what we’re called to, isn’t it? My boss always tells me, only half in jest, “whatever happens, make sure you tell them I died a martyr!”

    For me, I’ll be wary, especially in the interests of protecting others. But I’m not going to lock and load or do one single thing to change how I act as a Catholic, unless it’s to step up the prayer and GO TO CONFESSION. And God help me, I’ll have the grace to forgive.

  47. jhayes says:

    Venerator Sti Lot asked Does anyone know if ‘Counter Terrorism Advice for Churches’ is available online,

    It was witten by Nick Tolson of ChurchWatch Trust. You can read it


    In an interview in The Telegraph, Tolson said that the recommendation about not wearing dog collars didn’t come him or his report. The Telegraph article also said it didn’t come from the Church of England. The Express article seems to be based on what one vicar said he was told by someone at his diocese.

    he [Tolson] said clergy should continue to wear dog collars.

    He said: “We advise them to have their collars on and open their churches because there’s zero evidence that wearing collars is any risk.”

    The Church of England said it had not told vicars to stop wearing dog collars.


  48. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Melissa Johnson,

    Then again what did St. John the Baptist say to the soldiers who asked, “What shall we do?” – not ‘Get another line of employment at once. obviously!’, but “be content with your pay.” And what did Christ say to St. Peter and the other remaining Ten Apostles? – “he that hath not, let him sell his coat, and buy a sword”, and, when they answered, “Lord, behold here are two swords”, He said to them, “It is enough.” (St. Luke 3:14, 22:36-38). What, for that matter, did St. Abram do, when St. Lot was “taken”? (Genesis 14:16-18).

  49. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Many thanks!

  50. Kerry says:

    People disguised as Islamists are walking around, picking fights, picking rapes, picking mutilations, and they are “instantly ready to off somebody and looking to do so”. And almost any “somebody” that is not them will do. “Instantly ready to off somebody”, and preparations to defend the innocent by force of arms, are two very different things.
    “I absolutely refuse to be impartial between the fire and the fire brigade”.

  51. Kerry says:

    jhayes, thank you for the links. (Are you any relation to Rutherford B.?) My scorn about the tough recommendations is misplaced. Ought I to have known following the trail would lead to a rumor? Probably. The pdf seems well thought through; I must be more circumspect with my comments. Doh!
    Gaz, was it a Level II, or a Level III duty holster?

  52. un-ionized says:

    Kerry, you completely misunderstand my response to the above poster who proposes doing just those things that I mentioned. We are not called upon to do those things. Period.

  53. jhayes says:

    Kerry asks Are you any relation to Rutherford B.?

    No, he finished his term as president in 1880 and died in 1893, a few years after my grandfather arrived in this country to live in Connecticut.

    I do find some kinship with him in Rutherford’s 1886 diary entry that sounds like a discussion that is still going on.

    In church it occurred to me that it is time for the public to hear that the giant evil and danger in this country, the danger which transcends all others, is the vast wealth owned or controlled by a few persons. Money is power. In Congress, in state legislatures, in city councils, in the courts, in the political conventions, in the press, in the pulpit, in the circles of the educated and the talented, its influence is growing greater and greater. Excessive wealth in the hands of the few means extreme poverty, ignorance, vice, and wretchedness as the lot of the many. It is not yet time to debate about the remedy. The previous question is as to the danger—the evil. Let the people be fully informed and convinced as to the evil. Let them earnestly seek the remedy and it will be found. Fully to know the evil is the first step towards reaching its eradication. Henry George is strong when he portrays the rottenness of the present system. We are, to say the least, not yet ready for his remedy. We may reach and remove the difficulty by changes in the laws regulating corporations, descents of property, wills, trusts, taxation, and a host of other important interests, not omitting lands and other property.

  54. wolfeken says:

    Paradoxically, almost every murdered priest or nun in the United States during the last several decades was killed while wearing civilian clothing, instead of a Roman collar or habit.

    In the United States, it is actually safer for priests and religious to wear clerical garb then to wander around undercover.

  55. wolfeken says:

    * than

  56. Prayerful says:

    The Moslem threat in the UK would be from Pakistanis, a people where mothers and fathers murder their daughters in gruesome ways (burning alive or rape and strangulation per two recent cases) over supposed familial dishonour. Given that their menfolk dominate one particular sex offence against children, where the children are outside and not known to the offender (a minority of child sex offences but an incredible number for the percentage of the UK population, the Rotherham grooming cases is a well known example), they might be more interested in sniffing after children than hassling priests or vicars.

  57. Muv says:

    “MUV said, “let us know how you get on.” For who do you collectively speak?
    You did not ask me if I may be included in that “us”. For whom can you speak besides yourself?”

    For whom do I speak? For all my compatriots who are appalled by the notion of a person who says he carries a firearm and spare ammunition everywhere he goes imagining himself walking around London wearing a clerical collar.

    This year, you fear and despise me. Next year, after I run for and win the election for sheriff, you will say, “oh good- I’m glad to have him and people like him at my disposal by calling for help.”

    No, I don’t fear and despise you, and I cannot see that anything I have written can reasonably lead you to this conclusion. As for next year, why do you assume you will win the election for sheriff? And when it comes to calling for help, I shall ring 999 and ask to be put through to the local constabulary, the majority of whose officers do not carry firearms.

    Thank you for the links and for debunking the headlines.

  58. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    I don’t think I’ve ever read any Henry George (1839-97), but I see the Internet Archive has his complete works in 10 volumes (including a life by H.G. jr.), among other things… (And one can listen to a free audiobook of Progress and Poverty in a little under 19 hours at, read by a New Zealander who’s also interested in Lewis and Chesterton.) The old Catholic Encyclopedia articles on “Socialism” and ” Agrarianism” critique his thought to varying degrees.

  59. Melissa Johnson says:

    Venerator Sti Lot, I’m all for protecting people, especially the vulnerable priests on our altars. I have no qualms as to what I’d do if called to do it. Believe me, I’m actually responsible for my priest’s safety in my parish; it’s often on my mind.

    Priests *should* continue to wear the collar in public–and more than that, we lay people should support and display our own Catholicism, even if it draws fire. But I’m not clear where in scripture (the New Testament, at any rate) or Catholic dogma (or history) it states we should respond to violence in kind. Everything I’ve been led to understand has to do with the _exact_ opposite.

    Priests are holy–or they should be. I do believe it was the Angelic Doctor himself who said:

    “Wherefore it is unbecoming for them to slay or shed blood, and it is more fitting that they should be ready to shed their own blood for Christ, so as to imitate in deed what they portray in their ministry.”

    Now, I readily admit that priests are also men, and thus given to the same faults as the rest of us, but I’ll be the first to tell you that I’d rather take a bullet for my priest (or fire one or many in his defense) than have my priest soil his hands with blood shed in violence. And better not to kill at all, but as a last resort, and pray to God for the grace to confess yourself before the end.

  60. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Melissa Johnson,

    It is a large and complex matter the details of which I do not have at my fingertips, but I would respond generally, I’m not clear where in scripture (the New Testament, at any rate: from which I have noted two examples) or Catholic dogma (or history) it states we should never respond to violence in kind.

    The Twelfth Canon of the Council of Nicea (325), for example, seems to imply as clearly as the answer of St. John the Baptist that it is permissible for the faithful to be in military service.

    I have a sense (from my reading) that the history of the Church fairly abounds with warrior bishops (without a sense that is, or was seen as, a reflection of their being “given to the same faults as the rest of us”) – though I do not know their names by heart. A little quick checking, however, finds Edwin Burton’s old Catholic Encyclopedia article on “Durham” describing Antony Beck as “the warrior-prelate”, Beck whom Pope Clement V later named Partriarch of Jerusalem.; and Martin Dvorin Krmpotic in his ” Croatia” article writing, “In 1513, however, the Turkish army was defeated by the Ban Bishop Peter Berislavich, and Leo X, upon receiving the news of victory, sent the warrior-bishop a blessed saber.”

  61. Semper Gumby says:

    tominrichmond: Well said. KateD: Great video clip. My guess is that Indiana Jones has a Combat Rosary.

  62. jflare says:

    You know, I recall watching PSAs on AFN about “blending in” while I lived in Japan. I recall thinking the idea laughable: the average Japanese person tended to be a minimum of six inches shorter than me and much more darkly complected. Blending in was not going to happen without tons of dark-colored makeup being applied to me each day, …and lopping me off at the knees.

    Instead of hiding their identity as priests, perhaps Their Excellencies could badger Parliament into allowing them to train and arm their priests with personal pistols. Even something as small as a four-shot derringer could work. Methings would-be jihadists and other ne’er-do-wells would be rather effectively deterred if they knew they might be shot for their trouble.

    Kate D, LOVED the clip!

  63. un-ionized says:

    We are never to respond in kind. Melissa is right.

  64. Elizabeth D says:

    Parish security should not involve armed parishioners, above all not openly armed. This is totally, wildly unacceptable. There is one Mass at my parish that I will not attend because of the disturbing and frightening experience of a man wearing a gun openly, and I have spoken up about that. This is completely incompatible with evangelization and being welcoming and helping people to feel comfortable.

  65. Elizabeth D says:

    I condemn Fr Z’s longtime promotion of people coming to church with firearms.

  66. Elizabeth D says:

    In the case of the man openly wearing a gun at my parish, this was someone who would know Fr Z personally.

  67. Kerry says:

    Elizabeth, I agree with you on openly carrying a firearm inside the church. (For that matter, when living in MN, where open carry was legal, I chose not to do do; no point in showing one’s cards so to speak.) However I must disagree about excluding armed parishioners from security. It depends on their level of training and skill with weapons. Any number of combat veterans have skills far beyond what one might need to defend against home invasions. I think mindset is also very, very important.
    The American woman who recently won gold medals in her sixth Olympics fires 500-1000 rounds in practice, daily. That’s a lot of practice. On the other hand, my mother’s father, a great duck caller and hunter, in a duck blind raised his shotgun to fire and the man next to him, a left handed shooter raised his and, as I heard the story, “Shot the end of my grandfather’s gun off”. My grandfather never hunted with him again. Parish security wants the former, not the latter.

  68. Kerry says:

    That would be 500-1000 shotgun shells, not rounds. Rounds means cartridges.

  69. un-ionized says:

    Elizabeth, my former parish had armed security guards, now with tasers but formerly off duty police with their sidearms. This, combined with the pastor’s animosity toward the poor of the neighborhood, resulted in a focus on keeping strangers out of the building, and there was even a scandal where a longtime parishioner was told to leave as he quietly prayed before Mass. His apparent crime was having a beard and looking elderly. He left, never to return and no one ever apologized. One of the current security people is eager to use his taser. This is not a good environment for evangelization, certainly. There is a very unchristian mindset there.

  70. un-ionized says:

    Fr. Philip, women are used to “what did you do to deserve it?”

  71. ALL: Let’s refocus on the topic of the entry. If there is nothing more to be said about the topic of the entry, then I can close down the combox.

  72. KateD says:

    Melissa and Elizabeth,

    I have struggled with the same questions regarding non violence, mulled over those arguments for many years and am still chewing on them….

    Here’s a question that just occurred to me while reading comments on this post…

    Is ‘the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church’ a universally true axiom?

    I always assumed it was. It was certainly true for the martyrs of the Roman Empire which established the Church and for those who followed the African martyrs….But does it apply to Mohammedans who followed the establishment of Christianity and annihilated the Church in North Africa and the Middle East? In millennia of of Christians and Jews being martyred by Islamists, the fruits seem lacking….

  73. Muv says:

    “In millennia of of Christians and Jews being martyred by Islamists, the fruits seem lacking….”

    Not millennia, only about 14oo years.
    Many saints were martyred by Muslims in the Iberian peninsula, who no doubt assisted from Heaven in regaining what is now Spain and Portugal for Christendom. The evangelisation of South and Central America, large chunks of Africa and outposts in Asia is rather a large fruit.

  74. pelerin says:

    Last month I was in Lourdes where there was high security leading up to the Feast of the Assumption. There were fears that another tragedy might take place as August 15th was the next big national Holiday after July 14th.

    I was very impressed when I saw the local parish Priest out in the street striding out in his soutane – this was shortly after the murder of Fr Jacques Hamel in Normandy.

    The day before, I had attended Sunday Mass in his church and outside the main doors there were four soldiers bearing sub-machine guns. His parishioners were being protected in this way and yet the parish Priest had been courageous enough to walk out in his soutane. Food for thought.

    On August 15th Mass was held out on the ‘prairie’ and patrolling behind me throughout were six armed soldiers. It was sad that this was necessary and I must admit to feeling apprehensive as being English I had never before attended a Mass knowing that some of those present would be armed.

  75. Gilbert Fritz says:

    I was at a EF Mass where a young man decided to attend with a semi-automatic strapped to his leg. Father got an usher to ask him to put it in his car.

    Which was a good idea. If you want a weapon, hide it; it can make people nervous in the current environment. Walking around with a weapon openly seems to have only drawbacks, not advantages.

  76. un-ionized says:

    Cardinal Sarah speaks eloquently about martyrdom in his book. He explains it in a couple of different contexts.

  77. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    “It’s likely to be a knife – not a machine gun, but we are covering that too.”

    I’ve been at Masses in Europe where the parish has someone uniformed as a Swiss Guard, carrying a halberd – I can’t recall whether such ‘Swiss Guards’ also (usually) had swords as well, but there must be innumerable Masses every year throughout the world where members of the military or of Orders such as the Knights of Columbus bear their swords.

    It never occurred to me that anyone would be dismayed by this or eschew such a Mass.

    It now occurs to me that, if someone decided to indulge in what I’ve seen called ‘knife jihad’, someone responding rapidly with halberd or sword could be much more than a ceremonial presence, and, even as ceremonial presence might be more likely to deter than seem an inviting challenge. (I have no idea who among those so ‘ceremonially’ armed are practiced in the use of their weapons, but for those who are not, it would seem a good idea to become so.)

  78. un-ionized says:

    I believe the “swords” carried by the Knights of Columbus are blunt.

  79. Melissa Johnson says:

    The issue at hand is whether clergy in the UK ought to forgo the dog collar because of terrorism.

    I–and the priests I know–emphatically say no, exactly the opposite.

    Packing heat at mass? That’s as may be: then God have mercy on us all. My parish is attended by our local sheriff. If he’s packing–and he’d be the only one in the crowd I’d trust not to go off half-cocked–I don’t know it.

    As to warrior bishops and such, Venerator Lot Sti, there certainly were some in history, just as there were also Borgias in the Vatican; it doesn’t follow that poisoning your enemies or fathering illegitimate children are any more a priest’s purview than taking up arms.

    That’s not to say priests wouldn’t *want* to. Different matter entirely.

  80. Melissa Johnson says:

    That quote is from Tertullian, an early Christian writer, who undoubtedly knew from whence he spoke.

    Islamic extremists are willing to die for their faith, but their modus operandi is to take out as many unbelievers with them as they can. Our Faith instead calls us to forgive and to lay down our lives for others–as much as we would like to think otherwise.

  81. un-ionized says:

    Melissa, Yes, the Gospel progresses from laying down your life for your friends to loving your enemies. I let my CCL lapse because it was a hindrance to my apostolate, which depends on mutual trust. How will others trust me when I demonstrate conclusively that I don’t trust them and would they like to visit my parish in such a circumstance? You will be able to examine all the facets of that, I am sure. I have found that many of the people in my area who carry concealed telegraph it by their behavior (they are people that I know well and with whom I shoot at the range). Back to the Gospel subject, I don’t recall any saint who is admired for having taken out others as he or she was martyred like a Saint Rambo.

  82. FXR2 says:

    Melissa Jones, Un-ionized,
    un-ionized says:
    3 September 2016 at 4:31 AM
    We are never to respond in kind. Melissa is right.

    Please refer to the below quote from the CCC:

    Legitimate defense

    2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not.”65

    2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:

    If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.66
    2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.

  83. un-ionized says:

    For, if you read carefully you will see that neither of us was referring to self-defense.

  84. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    un-ionized wrote: “I believe the ‘swords’ carried by the Knights of Columbus are blunt.” Thanks! I’d be interested in knowing more about this, as it is the sort of thing I could not readily find info about. Speculating out loud, a blunt sword might be effective at parrying a knife attack, and disarming the attacker (with less danger of serious injury to the attacker). I suppose something similar could be said of a blunt-edged and -tipped halberd, though I can also imagine it could be more injurious in thrusting or ‘clubbing’ than a blunt sword.

    He also wrote, “if you read carefully you will see that neither of us was referring to self-defense.” While I am consistently trying to read carefully, I am not always confident I see exactly what is being referred to. So, I’m not sure whether any of us are talking at cross-purposes some of the time or not.

    For instance, when Melissa Johnson says, “I’ll be the first to tell you that I’d rather take a bullet for my priest (or fire one or many in his defense) than have my priest soil his hands with blood shed in violence” this would seem to distinguish between priests (and bishops, I take it) and layfolk, excluding the former from armed defense of self or others, while expressing a willingness and so propriety of layfolk ‘firing one or many bullets in defense of them’. Is this a clarification of earlier saying, “I’m not going to lock and load”? – I’m not sure.

    And then, “their [Islamic extremists’] modus operandi is to take out as many unbelievers with them as they can” is being contrasted with, or implying what? No-one (as far as I have seen: certainly not I) has suggested some sort of contemporary-tech inadequate analogy of Samson, blowing up a full church together with oneself in attempting to neutralize attackers. But if, say, a priest on the street or all the faithful during a service are being attacked by more than one person, surely subduing (even, in certain circumstances, by mortal injury) or repelling no fewer than each and every attacker is appropriate? While, analogously, in military conflict or something closely resembling it, subduing as many attacking combatants as necessary to end the attack is appropriate.

    When I write, “I have a sense (from my reading) that the history of the Church fairly abounds with warrior bishops (without a sense that is, or was seen as, a reflection of their being “given to the same faults as the rest of us”)”, I do not see how “there certainly were some in history, just as there were also Borgias in the Vatican; it doesn’t follow that poisoning your enemies or fathering illegitimate children are any more a priest’s purview than taking up arms” addresses it – it seems a begging of the question, which is, whether it is in keeping with the teaching of the Church for bishops or priests to be warriors as well, or not. I quoted, “the Turkish army was defeated by the Ban Bishop Peter Berislavich, and Leo X, upon receiving the news of victory, sent the warrior-bishop a blessed saber.” I would be surprised to learn a pope ever analogously sent another prince of the Church an expression of his gratitude and encouragement for the latter’s successfully fathering illegitimate children! ‘Abusus usum non tollet’: the question is, has the Church categorically, consistently, definitively denied the possibility of warrior-episcopal or – priestly use of arms?

    Tertullian (while he was still a Church Father and before becoming a heretic) is certainly worthy of respect, but he is not the Church. If, as a heretic, he said something true to the deposit of faith, that would in its own right be worthy of saying ‘amen’ to. But is this saying of his, and this alone, the adequate and complete expression of the mind of the Church on the subject? Centuries of evidence (as far as I can see) suggest otherwise.

  85. SKAY says:

    Venerator Sti Lot and FXR2:
    Thank you for your detailed comments above. I read them carefully.

    I always assumed that the Swiss Guard at the Vatican was there for the purpose of protecting
    the Pope and the Vatican and that they were well trained in more modern ways to accomplish this
    purpose other than those seen with their ceremonial uniforms.

    If we would listen to those Christians in the middle east who are living the horror of the consequences of Islamic terrorism we would not need to have this kind of discussion about the safety of our priests and churches with the absolute probability of it being brought into America under the current administration policies. Out of 10, 000 immigrants from Syria ( who cannot be properly vetted) brought into the US this year only 47 were Christian.
    What could possibly go wrong?

    “The European Parliament reported in March last year that more than 700,000 Christians had fled Syria since 2011. The proportion of Christians living in the Middle East is approximately 5 per cent, down from 20 per cent at the beginning of the previous century.

    The patriarch also urged Western governments to “screen” those crossing European borders to prevent the movement of radicalised individuals.

    “There should be a way of screening those who come to Europe so that they do not embrace extremist ideology,” he said.”

  86. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    I’m sure you are right about the training of the Swiss Guard at the Vatican (the “Equipment” section of the “Swiss Guard” Wikipedia article underlines this nicely) – they combine the ceremonial and the practical and effective. (I’d like to know more about their actual training with their “Traditional arms”: I was just watching a documentary about Iwo Jima where murderously successful sword-attacks by Japanese officers kept being recounted.)

    It seems a prudent approach, to know the practical use of traditional arms (even blunted ceremonial ones!) but to combine that with fine training with modern weapons as well – and one in keeping with sensible ideas of ‘proportionality of response’. As the gentleman said, “It’s likely to be a knife – not a machine gun, but we are covering that too.” If a parry that sends someone’s knife falling or flying is sufficient, fine.

    If several attackers are heading for the front door with automatic weapons and possibly bomb-vests as well, prevent their getting any closer as quickly and thoroughly as necessary. (Something like this seems to be common practice in the Middle East from various articles I’ve read down the years.)

    Something like what lairdangusmcangus suggested above (1 Sept.) would seem sensible: local, well-organized, well-trained, friendly but always ready for a graded tactical response, loving self-declared enemies and neighbors and ready to protect the latter from the former.

  87. Melissa Johnson says:

    Respond in kind does not mean legitimate self defense. [To whom is this addressed? Are you addressing this to me (Fr. Z)? If you are speaking to someone, the first thing you type should be that person’s name/handle.]

    Respond in kind refers to the open antagonism that has been mentioned in the thread and the absolutely abhorrent idea of a priest killing anyone.

    I’m as fond as anyone of the just war theory; I am however appalled by the ideas put forth here like carrying guns to mass or encouraging Father to shoot from the hip at the altar. Too bad St. Thomas a Becket hadn’t ramped up his bodyguard that fateful day when Henry rid himself of that turbulent priest.

  88. Melissa Johnson says:

    How about St. Thomas Aquinas? Did you miss my earlier quote? [Again!]

    i appreciate you’d like to have ‘warrior priests’ who can take it to the Isis jerks like it was a round of Assassins’ Creed, but I’m still failing to see where that is or ever was a teaching of Christ.

  89. Melissa Johnson says:

    You’re right; I wasn’t very clear regarding ‘Lock and load’ and ‘ fire one or many bullets’. [Again.]

    I’ll clarify: I would not fire any bullets. I would not be carrying a gun in church.

    Take a bullet for Father? Yep.

  90. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Melissa Johnson,

    Thank you for your responses of 6:43, 6:47, and 7:01 AM, insofar as they are addressed to me!

    It was not clear to me exactly how you were using “responding in kind”: thank you for the clarification!

    I had not yet tried to look up ““Wherefore it is unbecoming for them to slay or shed blood, and it is more fitting that they should be ready to shed their own blood for Christ, so as to imitate in deed what they portray in their ministry”, before mistakenly thinking your reference to Tertullian was meant as a reattribution of this quotation. (I also got muddled in thinking of St. Bonaventure (“the Seraphic Doctor”) when you referred to St. Thomas by the epithet, “Angelic Doctor”). My apologies for all these piled-up misunderstandings.

    I now see (thanks to Gary Hartenberg’s series of posts at Mere Orthodoxy) that you are quoting Summa Theologica, the Second Part of the Second Part, Question 64, Article 4, where St. Thomas answers (in a different translation from the one I am consulting for convenience at New Advent). I am not sure how far he is speaking generally, and how far he is speaking specifically, when he speaks of “lawfully put[ting] evil-doers to death.” I note, in any case, in the Reply to Objection 3, he says, “Ecclesiastical prelates accept the office of earthly princes, not that they may inflict capital punishment themselves, but that this may be carried into effect by others in virtue of their authority.” Therefore, “those clerics who are earthly princes” can order someone to kill someone else, but not execute the sentence themselves (according to St. Thomas and his reasoning).

    In Article 7, Reply to Objection 3, he writes, “a cleric, though he kill a man in self-defense, is irregular, albeit he intends not to kill him, but to defend himself.” This seems to me, in context, to be saying that a cleric, no less than anyone else, can in fact kill someone in self-defense. (In his answer, he says, “the act of self-defense may have two effects, one is the saving of one’s life, the other is the slaying of the aggressor. Therefore this act, since one’s intention is to save one’s own life, is not unlawful, seeing that it is natural to everything to keep itself in ‘being,’ as far as possible” and “Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense in order to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.”)

    I have not yet tried to read all of Question 64 with equal care, or to discover if St. Thomas addresses the matter of ‘warrior clerics’ specifically elsewhere.

    I don’t know much about Assassin’s Creed and have never played it (if that comment is addressed to me) – for that matter I don’t know much about the Ban Bishop Peter Berislavich, but assuming he made it his business to “take it to the [16th-c. Turkish equivalent of] Isis jerks”, I still fail to see why I should assume that that was contrary to the teaching of Christ.

  91. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Melissa Johnson,

    Deciding to search further about St. Thomas and ‘warrior clerics’, I now see that your quotation is from the same translation I was consulting, at New Advent, but from his answer in the Second Part of the Second Part, Question 40, Article 2! My apologies for yet another mistake! Here, he further says, “For this reason it has been decreed that those who shed blood, even without sin, become irregular. Now no man who has a certain duty to perform, can lawfully do that which renders him unfit for that duty. Wherefore it is altogether unlawful for clerics to fight, because war is directed to the shedding of blood.” In the reply to Objection 3, he says, “they are forbidden to take up arms, not as though it were a sin, but because such an occupation is unbecoming their personality.”

    My assumption (subject to correction!) is that ‘warrior clerics’ actually took up arms themselves and fought, rather than as “clerics who are earthly princes” only ordering other people to do so. Assuming they did so after the time of St. Thomas, I take it that the Church did not find St. Thomas’s reasoning on this matter conclusive – but I do not know who put that case, and in what terms.

    With reference to ‘irregularity’, I note the New Advent translation usefully links to the word “irregular” William Fanning’s 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia article, “Irregularity”.

  92. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Nicholas Edward Friend’s 2015 San Jose State University MA thesis, Holy Warriors and Bellicose Bishops: The Church and Warfare in Early Medieval Germany, looks interesting:

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