Following the robbery and murder of a priest last week, the Diocese of Phoenix is making it clear that “clergy members have the right to bear arms–just like any U.S. citizen.”
According to ABC 15, Father Joseph Terra was attacked and “badly beaten by a burglar” inside the rectory in which he lived. He tried to retrieve a gun and Father Kenneth Walker was shot to death. The attacker then stole his car and “$600 in property.”
Some reacted with surprise that Terra had a gun in the rectory, but a former attorney for the Phoenix Diocese stressed that having a gun was a way for Terra to try to protect himself, “Father Walker, and also parishioners who are…subject to some crazy person coming in there with a gun.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that killing in self-defense can be not simply a right but also a duty:
Sec. II, 2264: Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow.
Sec. II, 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.
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