Manila (Agenzia Fides) - Over 200 Catholic priests and pastors of other Christian denominations have applied for permits to carry firearms in the Philippines: says national police chief of the Philippines, Oscar Albayalde. According to the data released, permit applications filed with the Philippine National Police over the last year (starting from June 2017), 188 came from Catholic priests while 58 came from other Christian communities.
"We may accommodate requests for [a permit to carry firearms outside of residences] by duly qualified gun holders among members of the clergy and leaders of religious congregations", said Albayalde, specifying that so far none of the requests have yet been approved.
Requests for gun permits among priests have increased because of the murders of priests in the country, three in six months. (see Fides 13/6/2018). Albayalde said the police are willing to assist priests who want to carry firearms, "we are also amenable to taking the extra step of providing firearms proficiency and marksmanship training to religious leaders who wish to own and possess firearms". Under gun ownership laws, priests are among people, including journalists, lawyers, and medical practitioners, who can carry firearms.
In recent days, Bishops and religious leaders have said that priests and pastoral operators do not need to carry firearms for their own protection or for self-defense (see Fides 19/6/2018). Bishop Jose Oliveros, at the head of the diocese of Bulacan, said that priests should be "men of peace, not of war". The President of the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines, Archbishop Romulo Valles said that priests "always face the danger of death in the exercise of their ministry", but must not carry arms, but "be ready to give their lives to Christ". (SD) (Agenzia Fides, 22/6/2018)