Earlier this week, Fr. Ed Fride, pastor of Christ the King parish in Ann Arbor, Michigan made news when he hosted a concealed pistol license class. Fr. Fride gave two reasons in a seven-page message to his parish about the decision. One reason explained how difficult it is to fit these classes into busy schedules. The second was “doing it here at the parish, co-sponsored by the parish, was an attempt to get people to to realize the reality of the threat and take it seriously”.
Unfortunately, Bishop Earl Boyea, Bishop of the Diocese of Lansing released a statement addressing the concerns of guns on church property and the classes being held at Christ the King (emphasis mine):
Bishop Boyea has never given permission for anyone to carry a concealed weapon in a church or school of the Diocese of Lansing.
You don’t need permission to carry a concealed weapon in Michigan. You only need to have a permit issued by the State. It only becomes a concern if there is a visible sign outside the entrance.
This ban on weapons has now been extended to “open carry” in our churches and our schools, thus making them gun-free zones.
Gun-free zones in schools have worked well for Columbine and Sandy Hook. You would think people would learn; banning guns only hinders law abiding citizens. Those who are looking to inflict violence on the innocent in a church or school will still bring in their guns.
Additionally, Bishop Boyea further states that Concealed Pistol License classes are inappropriate activities to be held on Church property.
I’m unsure how properly learning how to use a fire arm in a safe and reasonable manner in order to protect yourself, your family and your neighbor is considered “inappropriate”. Self-defense is a God-given right and is outlined in the Catechism paragraphs 2263-2264.
As always we rely on the public or professional security forces to provide for public safety on Church property.”
In other words, no matter how much training you have, you aren’t allowed to carry. You aren’t trained enough to defend others unless it is your paid job. Using the Bishop’s own logic, we can ignore his comments on guns because he isn’t a professional in this area. Since his job is to teach Catholicism, he should stick to that. Additionally, if a shooter enters a Church and begins murdering those in attendance, the response time for a “professional security force” is going to be at least 5 minutes, as opposed to the trained parishioner’s response time of 5 seconds. But, if we wait for the professionals, we can assume more blood will be spilled.
Bishop Boyea has effectively made his flock easy targets by any individual who wishes to inflict bodily harm on a parish. You would think in a day when we have militant atheists and ISIS as threats on our doorsteps, the Bishop would be more than willing to protect his flock.
Some would argue that if you respect the Bishop’s wishes and if a shooting was to occur, those caught in the cross-fire would be martyrs. I would argue that this is incorrect. Catholic teaching tells us that we have the right to protect ourselves and our neighbors (CCC 2263-2264), using physical force if need be. If a gunman or gunmen were to enter a church and begin shooting, I would have the God-given right to use physical force to stop the threat. Seeing as they have a long ranged weapon, I would need a long ranged weapon to stop the threat. I certainly won’t have the time to run up and stop them using hand-to-hand combat.
Additionally, being killed while present at Mass does not automatically make one a martyr. There is an interior disposition that is required which necessitates the martyr to desire and want martyrdom (CCC 2473-2474).
If anyone dies because of his decision, Bishop Boyea will be responsible. It is irresponsible and negligent for him to make his flock sitting ducks. Let’s just hope ISIS is respectful of his request to leave their guns at home.