There’s very little that upsets me. My husband will tell you, I’m like the Rock of Gibraltar; steady as the day is long. I don’t get emotional, I’m very even keeled and don’t go flying off the handle. I mean, I’m not unflappable, I just like getting all the facts straight first and as the meme says, keep calm and carry on.
However, when it came to discussing the Pope’s visit to America, I have to admit: I got pretty upset.
I took to social media to voice my displeasure and disbelief over Pope Francis’ focus on climate change rather than things like the worldwide persecution of Christians or the continual slaughter of babies through abortion. Mid-rant in the thread, I received a message from a fellow gun owner asking if I was aware that I can’t call myself a Christian. I actually laughed and thinking it was a joke and made a flippant comment about how I’d love to see who was going to stop me.
All kidding aside, she sent me an article from June 2015 citing Pope Francis’ declaration that people who manufacture weapons or invest in weapons industries are ‘hypocrites if they call themselves Christian’. The remarks were made at a rally of thousands of young people at the end of the first day of his trip to the Italian city of Turin and was his toughest condemnation of the weapons industry. Many media outlets translated the Pope’s statement to read ‘gun owners can’t call themselves Christians’.
The pertinent excerpt from that speech was: “It makes me think of … people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit a distrust, doesn’t it?”. Pope Francis then also criticized those who invest in weapons industries, saying “duplicity is the currency of today … they say one thing and do another.”
I found that pretty ironic considering he was speaking out freely against gun manufacturers, owners and the weapons industry in part because he is protected by the Swiss Guard who, perhaps he doesn’t know, carry guns. Also, he spends 24/7 in either a fortress or a bulletproof Popemobile, so perhaps his threat assessment when it comes to violent crime is a bit tainted with the privileges his title affords him.
Deacon Thomas Lawson was one person bold enough to call out the pope’s use of body guards. “And what, pray tell, do the Swiss Guards have as alternates to the large ‘hatchets’ they carry? Right! They have [a] stock of automatic weapons and an armory full of ammunition to protect Pope Francis,” the deacon wrote on AmmoLand.com. “Let Pope Francis be the first to disarm before he advises others to do so! Even Saint Peter, the first ‘pope,’ carried a sword and cut off the ear of one of Jesus’ captors when firearms were not invented yet!”
In the the same speech from Turin, Pope Francis also spoke about the failure of world powers to stop the Nazis during the Holocaust, “The great powers had photographs of the railway routes that the trains took to the concentration camps, like Auschwitz, to kill the Jews, and also the Christians, and also the Roma, also the homosexuals,” Pope Francis said, according to the Independent. ”Tell me, why didn’t they bomb [those railroads]?”
In one speech, the pope managed to 1) label people who manufacture or invest in the weapons industry ‘hypocrites’ then 2) passionately question why those same people didn’t bomb railroads during the Holocaust while 3) actively being protected by armed guards. I appreciate that he was so willing to be such a blatant example of what it means to be a hypocrite, so let’s move on to what qualifies anyone to declare who can and cannot call themselves Christians.
We don’t need to get into religion at all, although a great many solid points can be easily made to prove that no religious or spiritual person should rely on man (or one man) for guidance, validation, or permission to call themselves anything, but I’m not here to argue that. Personally, I don’t need to call myself a Christian; I am an imperfect follower of Christ and I am what the bible says I am, regardless of what any man or woman considers me to be. I am a Christ follower. Period.
In following Christ, I have learned that we are called to protect others, provide for our families, love one another, and pray for peace. I have also learned of amazing people of faith just like me, committed to defending innocent lives and boldly standing tall for their beliefs regardless of the consequences, from St. Gabriel Possenti to the brave Kurdish fighters. People who proudly stand and willingly fight to defend life at every stage.
Which brings me to what Pope Francis said on his recent visit to the United States. “The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development,” he said, adding “I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.”
Let’s just hope Pope Francis sees that our responsibility to protect and defend human life includes the right to keep and bear arms in order to do so. I for one, pray that he realizes that everyone is worthy of self defense using the very means His Holiness utilizes.