Monday, January 21, 2013

The Catholic Church vs. Gun Rights?

Codrea publishes an essay which questions the position of the Catholic Church on gun rights.

Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the press office of the Holy See, called “initiatives announced by the United States government in view of limiting and controlling the diffusion and use of arms … a step in the right direction.

“Forty-seven religious leaders of various confessions and religions have issued a call to American politicians to limit firearms, which ‘are making society pay an unacceptable price in terms of massacres and senseless deaths,’” Lombardi stated in his address. “I’m with them.”


The first thing to recognize is that Fr. Lombardi is NOT the Pope, nor does he 'speak for the Pope' on issues such as this.  (The same applies to the USCC, by the way.)  Thus, we must refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church for guidance on the matter.

There are three paragraphs which refer to 'self-defense':  2263, 2264, and 2308 (the last referring to the right of self-defense for Governments.)  None of them prohibit---in any way--armed self-defense.

Further, if one looks at #2263 ffd., it is clear that self-defense has applications beyond that of a one-to-one encounter.

2265:  Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility

That 'legitimately hold authority' phrase is critical.  The Declaration of Independence paid homage to that tenet of the Catechism, in the section beginning "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations...."  It is not a coincidence that immediately before that line the Declaration also states that "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments  [...] should not be changed for light and transient causes...."

The Vatican has been legitimately concerned with small-arms proliferation.  What is UN-mentioned in Lombardi's somewhat vacuous piece is that the old Soviet Union and the current Red Chinese governments are (and were) THE most significant small-arms proliferators.  See AK-47, e.g.

Whatever Fr. Lombardi says is authoritative only insofar as his words comport with the Catechism.  The USCC's "authority" is limited in exactly the same way.  Thus, prudently exercised self-defense against persons or illicit governments is perfectly licit.


Al said...

Where are these same people when the Vatican speaks out against abortion or artificial birth control making clear what the official teaching of the Catholic Church is?
Yet when a priest shares what he makes clear is his own opinion, they make it sound like it is an official infallible teaching of the Church.
As for the USCCB, I suspect what that author said was taken out of context at best. Except under 2 very limited circumstances, a document issued by the USCCB does not take the place of the individual Bishop's teaching authority.
A prime example how the media/left twisted what the USCCB says was last Fall when the Bishop who was the head of a USCCB committee said Ryan's budget plan went contrary to Catholic teaching. They ran with that while ignoring what Bishop Morlino, Ryan's Bishop & the one who had the actual authority to judge said it was in line with Catholic teaching.

Anonymous said...

In America, we don't take policy direction from the pope or any other religious types with fancy French Fr. titles. Most of these pasty old boys don't even follow their own teaching.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Armed self-defense and the right to possess a firearm are TWO DIFFERENT and SEPARATE concepts.

The RCC indeed supports a person to defend themselves from bodily harm. A person may have access to a weapon to ensure he/she is safe.

However, the RCC's position is clear contrary to Dad29's claim...firearms in the hands of civilians should be strictly limited. The Vatican's justice and peace council's document "The International Arms Trade (1994)" calls on every nation and state "to impose a strict control on the sale of handguns and small arms. Limiting the purchase of such arms would certainly not infringe on the rights of anyone."

Dad29 said...

Umnnnhhh....1) The right to possess precedes the right to armed self-defense. You can't have the latter without the former.

2) The J&P Council (not a doctrinal nor dogmatic body) was addressing the large-scale dumping of AK-47's into the hands of Commies and drug-runners by the Soviet and PRC empires.

3) It is clear that the Vatican does not oppose revolution(s) against oppressive regimes, or they would have said so. In fact, the Vatican has been completely silent on that issue. That's because the moral judgment outlined in the Declaration is perfectly in accord with Church teaching as I noted in the post.

Anonymous said...

Just as the Vatican is silent on the hush money paid to victims of their pervert priests. Telling, aina?

Silence ought to be the Vatican's watchword.