A Catholic priest in Michigan is urging his parishioners to consider arming themselves and has said his church will offer classes to help those interested earn a license to carry a concealed weapon.
The Detroit Free Press reports the Rev. Edward Fride of Christ the King parish in Ann Arbor, Michigan, recently sent a letter to parishioners titled “We’re not in Mayberry anymore, Toto” — an awkward, mixed reference to both the idyllic town once depicted in “The Andy Griffith Show” as well as the dog in “The Wizard of Oz.”
The letter reportedly came in response to some parishioners who objected to Fride announcing the classes during a Palm Sunday mass last month.
Fride wrote in the letter that it is easy for Christians to lull themselves into a false sense of security and to suppose that “because they know the Lord Jesus, everything will always be fine and nothing bad can happen to them and their families.”
“Pretending we are in Mayberry, while we are clearly not, can have very negative consequences for ourselves and those we love, especially those we have a responsibility to protect,” the letter continued.
According to WXYZ News, the church has already hosted one class.
Fride acknowledged in his letter that guns made some parishioners nervous.
"Several people have said to me, ‘I'm afraid of guns,’” he wrote. “My response to one woman was, 'Well, how do you feel about rape?’”
Fride could not be reached for comment by either WXYZ or the Free Press.
But Diocese of Lansing spokesman, Michael Diebold, confirmed, by email, that the letter had been sent to members of the Ann Arbor parish which is part of the Lansing diocese.
Diebold later released an official statement from the diocese saying that Lansing Catholic Bishop Earl Boyea has said “that Concealed Pistol License classes are inappropriate activities to be held on Church property.”
Furthermore, Diebold wrote, the Lansing diocese has an overall ban on weapons in church, although Fride has not directly advocated that parishioners carry guns to church.
Diebold also referenced a 2012 statement from Boyea regarding guns.
“We are followers of Jesus Christ, who raised not a hand against those who mocked, tortured, and finally murdered him," Boyea said at the time. "While we grasp both the Second Amendment and the legitimate right of some persons to defend themselves, our churches and our schools are dedicated to a far different approach to life's problems.”
But Fride appeared to part company with the bishop on the issue.
According to WXYZ, the priest wrote in a follow up email to his controversial letter, that he thinks it is “perfectly appropriate for the parish to offer this class because the protection of our families and our kids is of paramount importance to us.”
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