Assuming this bill becomes law—and setting aside some questions I can’t answer about how Arkansas defines a “church”, etc.—canonically, it seems to me that, as parishes are “juridic persons” under canon law (c. 515 § 3) and pastors represent parishes in juridic affairs (c. 532), local pastors get to make this call. For several reasons (cit. om.), I think a prohibition against carrying would have to be announced if that were desired as policy in a given parish.
That said, I think a bishop would have the authority (c. 381) to prohibit Catholics (as subjects of canon law) along with others (by dint of civil law) from carrying weapons in any Catholic sacred place (c. 1205). Of course, enacting such a policy would require of ecclesiastical leadership a conscientious weighing of its pros-s and con-s (including an assessment of the trend in recent years whereby lunatics target schools and churches as places packed with defenseless victims), of the enforceability of any policy as might be enacted, and of the consequences envisioned for violation of such a policy (which consequences might run up against certain canonical rights, say, to receive sacraments). In short, I don’t think there’s an obviously right, or wrong, answer to this one. [Fr. Z. adds: "Right or wrong? Not sure. Easy or hard? Definitely HARD! So, maybe it is one which bishops would do well to stay away from?"]
Thursday, February 07, 2013
Canonist examines concealed carry weapon policies for churches
Canonist Ed Peters has come out with an interesting look at pending Arkansas' legislation for churches to determine concealed carry policies. Fr. Z. carries a post on Peters, offering his own feedback, which is also interesting. As the latter says, summing up: "The key concept in the issue seems to be subsidiarity – letting the decisions be made at the most local level feasible." A brief excerpt from Peters: