OVER 200 priests and other religious leaders have applied for license to own and carry firearm permit, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Oscar Albayalde said last Wednesday.
Albayalde said that since May, 246 priests and pastors have filed applications before the PNP-Firearms and Explosives Office. Of the number, 188 are Catholic priests while the others are members or leaders of other religious groups.
Following the killing of Father Richmond Nilo right in front of the altar in a chapel in Zaragosa, Nueva Ecija last June 10, priests were urged to arm themselves as a form of protection. Nilo was the third priest killed in the past six months.
In December 2017, Father Marcelito Paez, 72, was shot dead by motorcycle-riding assailants while inside his vehicle traversing Jaen-Zaragoza Road in Sitio Sanggalang, Barangay Lambakin also in Nueva Ecija.
On April 29, Father Mark Ventura, parish priest of San Isidro church in Gattaran, Cagayan, was also shot dead after saying mass.
Albayalde expressed willingness to help priests get permits to own and carry firearms outside their residence for their own protection.
Caloocan Bishop Pablo David, CBCP vice president, earlier said priests who would arm themselves should leave the priesthood or seek “serious counseling.”
The Archdiocese of Cebu said allowing priests to carry guns for personal protection is inappropriate and contrary to their role as “shepherds willing to lay their lives for their sheep.”
Msgr. Joseph Tan, Archdiocese spokesperson, said that while it is not illegal or immoral for a priest to carry guns, it is inappropriate as it not only taints his image before his parishioners but it is also contrary to the Church’s mission.
“Even Jesus himself told St. Peter after he cut a man’s ear just before his passion and death that ‘he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.’ Jesus even reminds us that the Good Shepherd must guard his sheep with his life,” Tan said. (SunStar Philippines, JKV)