A MICHIGAN PRIEST SPARKS
DEBATE ABOUT SELF-DEFENSE
The gag lines are predictable…
“Communion lines to firing lines”
“Go ahead, Satan, make my day”
I’m sure you can think up as many as I can.
The Detroit Free Press story about how Fr. Ed Fride (pronounced: “FREE-DEE”) is planning to hold concealed-carry firearms instruction sessions for his parishioners is a natural for full-viral circulation. And the pastor of Ann Arbor’s Christ the King Parish is a perfect candidate for the great online smear.
“Is this priest some kind of right-wing nut?”
Conservative writer Jerome Corsi got that treatment when, speaking in Oregon recently, he stated a perfectly sensible fact about the primary purpose of sex…
“Sex is about the pro-creation of children. It’s a sacred responsibility and is meant by God for men and women to commit their lifetime to children.”
Unfortunately, he emphasized his point with a lighthearted throwaway line…
“Sex is not about fun. You want to have fun? Read a book. Go to a movie.”
The remark circulated on YouTube, bringing forth much snide commentary, including this insightful observation from Tiffany Willis, editor of the Liberal America website…
“Oh boy. How would you like to be married to this butt-clown? If the faces of the folks in the audience are any indication, their own women (and for sure not their men) can’t even get on board with the GOP and Tea Party stance that ‘sex is not about fun.’”
I’m not exactly certain what she was trying to say, but then, she’s a deep thinker, no doubt.
Anyway — count on it — Fr. Ed is next.
Well, I happen to know Fr. Ed Fride. I’ve heard him preach. I’ve watched him interact with his parishioners. I’m deeply aware of the respect and affection in which he is held, in both Catholic and interfaith circles.
The Free Press described Christ the King as having “strong ties to traditional, conservative Catholics,” which is true but incomplete. Actually, this parish, which developed under the impetus of an ecumenical revival called the Word of God, is a key center of the Catholic Charismatic Movement. Fr. Ed himself, is a leading Catholic Pentecostal spokesman, an intellectual of high regard (he’s a member of MENSA), and a serious, faith-filled Christian.
He’s been a mentor to numerous young men discerning religious vocations. Quoted in the Free Press article, my old Ave Maria Radio colleague, Jay McNally, referred to him as a “priest factory.”
In other words, Fr. Ed ain’t no nut!
The message to his congregation that stirred all the hubbub makes some very compelling points about the current condition of society and our moral responsibilities as Christians. To whit…
“It is very common for Christians to simply assume that they live in Mayberry [the idyllic setting of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’], trusting that because they know the Lord Jesus, everything will always be fine and nothing bad can happen to them and their families.
“Those who have followed the Lord Jesus for more than 20 minutes, however, have often experienced first-hand that the reality of living in a fallen universe can be very different. How to balance faith, reality, prudence, and trust is one of those critical questions that we struggle with all our lives.”
This is wisdom gained through struggle, and Fr. Ed has struggled. An adult convert, he was a pacifist of such conviction that he gained conscientious objector status during the late Vietnam War period from a draft board that was highly resistant to granting deferments. But he began to see that there are circumstances that require forceful action, even to the extent of killing.
His change of heart closely paralleled his journey into the Catholic Faith. He explained in his parish letter that, while he recognized a biblical case for pacifism…
“The Church’s approach simultaneously allowed and blessed both alternatives, the pacifist approach and the right to protect the common good with military action if necessary ….
“For me, as is not surprising for an immature 18 year old, [the choice for pacifism] was all about me, what should I do, what should be the ramifications for my life, etc. As I matured and especially as I became more and more aware of the Catholic moral teaching on the common good and the right and obligation to protect it, I began to see how completely individualistic my choice had been.”
Some recent crimes in the area, such as the murder of a neighbor of one of his parishioners and an attempted armed invasion of nearby Father Gabriel Richard Catholic High School, brought the issue of protection into sharp focus and spurred Fr. Ed to arrange for the firearms classes. As he wrote…
“the situation is that approximately 50 years ago or so, the ratio of police to bad guys, i.e. criminals in the traditional sense, was more or less sufficient to reasonably control crime. However, in more recent years two regrettable factors have taken place. First, the amount of crime has substantially grown; second, due to budget cuts, there has been a significant reduction in the availability of an armed police response.”
He noted that this reality…
“was highlighted recently by the chief of police of the City of Detroit who publically encouraged the law-abiding citizens of Detroit to arm themselves for their protection and the protection of their homes. He went so far as to say: ‘Good Americans with CPLs (Concealed Pistol Licenses) translates into crime reduction.’”
It appears that the firearms classes have been cancelled — or at least shelved for now — after an official statement quoted by the Free Press said that Bishop Earl Boyea…
“has never given permission for anyone to carry a concealed weapon in a church or school in the Diocese of Lansing,” and that “Concealed Pistol License classes are inappropriate activities to be held on Church property.”
Fr. Ed has responded with an expression of his obedience posted on the parish’s website…
“No parish is an island unto itself and no priest operates on his own. I am [Bishop Boyea’s] priest and I will continue to serve him to the best of my ability.”
I’m not sure this subject is entirely closed, however, since there was a decided note of hedging in the diocesan statement when the bishop acknowledged…
“we grasp both the Second Amendment and the legitimate right of some persons to defend themselves…”
This I would expect. I live in the Diocese of Lansing, and —
Well…do you remember that chunk of flyover country where Barack Obama famously said he observed a particular affinity for God and guns? I think he was talking about right here. We keep our pets indoors during deer season.
I, for one, applaud Fr. Ed for his effort. And we shall see what becomes of his concealed carry initiative after the smoke from this first volley of shots has cleared.
By the way, there’s this new Glock I’ve had my eye on. Does the Church have a blessing for packin’ heat?
Here’s a link to the Detroit Free Press article…