With the murder of Fr Richmond Nilo on 10 June, the number of priests killed since December 2017 has risen to three. The Philippine police has said that more than 240 priests and pastors have applied for a permit to carry weapons. For the Archbishop of Davao, with the "configuration of a priest to Christ, it is simply not appropriate, to say the least, for a priest to carry firearms to protect himself.”
Manila (AsiaNews/CBCPNews) – Recently, several priests have asked the Philippine National Police (PNP) to be allowed to carry weapons after a recent spate of assassinations of clergymen.
Despite this, for Mgr Romulus G. Valles, archbishop of Davao and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, priests should not be armed.
On 10 June, the murder of Fr Richmond Nilo in Zaragoza (Nueva Ecija) brought to three the number of assassinated priests since December 2017.
The killing of the 40-year-old priest from the Diocese of Cabanatuan followed that of Fr Mark Ventura in Gattaran (Cagayan) and Fr Marcelito Paez in Jaen (Nueva Ecija).
The PNP said that since June 2017, more than 240 priests and pastors have applied for a permit to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFOR).
According to PNP chief Oscar Albayalde, 188 of them are Catholic priests and 58 are ministers and pastors from other Christian churches.
Speaking about the issue, Mgr Valles expressed his disagreement “with such manner of action”.
“A priest,” he explained, “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.”
Conscious of "the day-to-day dangers" priests encounter, the CBCP president said that he had confidence in the authorities and the PNP.
“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,” the archbishop said.
Given the situation, the prelate discourages the clergy of Davao to carry weapons. He also encourages the priests of other dioceses to discuss with their bishops "regarding the appropriateness and witness to our people if you carry firearms”.
Finally, “Brother priests,” he said in addressing his fellow men of the cloth, “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,”