pastoral letter

ON THE ISSUE OF CATHOLIC PRIESTS CARRYING FIREARMS

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

These recent days, the news have reported a good number of Catholic priests asking for permit from the Philippine National Police (PNP) that they be allowed to carry firearms.

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.

A priest is a person who is configured to Christ. In the teachings of the Church, a priest acts in the person of Christ. In the midst of the Church, in the midst of society, because of the grace of priestly ordination, we are supposed to see and feel in his presence the person of Christ. And, therefore, with this configuration of a priest to Christ, it is simply not appropriate, to say the least, for a priest to carry firearms to protect himself.

I am very much aware of the day-to-day dangers to our life 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.

Thus, as the Archbishop of Davao, though up to now no priest has asked me, I strongly discourage my priests, the clergy of Davao, to seek such permission from the PNP to carry firearms.

For priests in other arch/dioceses, this is a matter that you should talk and discuss with your bishops and among yourselves as priests – regarding the appropriateness and witness to our people if you carry 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.

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, 23 June 2018

+ ROMULO G. VALLES, D.D.
Archbishop of Davao
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

P.N. 009/2018
23 June 2018