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Texas Bishop Takes Stand Against Openly Carrying Weapons at Mass

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 12/31/15

From the Diocese of Tyler website, a statement by Bishop Joseph Strickland:

On January 1, 2016, new legislation will go into effect in Texas which allows those with licenses issued by the State to openly carry handguns in places not prohibited by law. We will see our fellow citizens openly carrying weapons in stores, restaurants, theaters, parks, and other public places. This law revises the current “concealed carry” law but continues the requirements that those with licenses to carry handguns must be at least 21, have passed a criminal background check and have received classroom and shooting range instruction. I respect and support the right that we have as Texans to defend ourselves and our families. As Catholics, we believe the legitimate defense of persons can be not only a right, but also a grave duty. In the Diocese of Tyler, I strongly encourage those who chose to exercise this right to continue to do so in a prudent and responsible manner. With respect to our communal worship, I believe that openly carrying a weapon is not appropriate during the Sacred Liturgy and may understandably cause great discomfort to some gathered to worship alongside us. Accordingly, as Bishop, I ask the faithful of the Diocese of Tyler and guests of our churches to observe my instruction that weapons are not to be openly carried during Holy Mass or other times of public worship. Peace Officers commissioned by local, state or federal agencies are exempt from this instruction. As Texans adjust to this new law, I would also encourage the clergy and faithful of the Diocese to address any questions that may arise with calmness, kindness and respect, taking into consideration both the legitimate feelings and the rights of all involved. Please direct any questions that may come up regarding this instruction or the position of the Diocese of Tyler to Mr. Peyton Low at the Chancery Office.

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For the churches of the Diocese, the following statement should be inserted into Sunday bulletins and/or read during the announcements: OPEN CARRY & HOLY MASS Respecting the right of Texans to defend themselves and their families while at the same time being considerate of those who may be uncomfortable around weapons in the context of our sacred liturgies, Bishop Joseph E. Strickland has instructed that weapons are not to be openly carried during Holy Mass or other times of public worship.  Peace Officers commissioned by local, state or federal agencies are exempt from this instruction.  For more information, visit http://www.dioceseoftyler.org.
If a person who is lawfully carrying a weapon in an open manner enters a church, ushers, greeters and clergy are asked to refer the person to this statement.

As always, if someone is acting suspiciously or if an individual perceives danger to himself or others, call 9-1-1 and follow local security procedures.

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