My heart goes out to the congregation of Holy Ghost Roman Catholic Church in Hammond, Louisiana, who include a blogger friend, for the sad loss of their priest Ed Everitt. (I call no one on earth “Father”, Matthew 23:9.) Everitt was killed at a beachfront house in Mississippi, as reported by abc24 – thanks to Jim West for the link. See also the other JW’s post about this sad event.
I have good friends in Hammond, not Roman Catholics, and visited the city last year.
Jim rightly highlights the “Barbarism” and “depravity” of the suspect who has been arrested, who was reportedly planning to take his family to Disney World with the car and the money stolen from Everitt. But I want to look at another aspect of this story. I quote from the abc24 report as quoted by Jim:
A handyman is accused of using a Catholic priest’s own gun to kill him at a beachfront house in Mississippi …
What was a priest, a man of God, doing with a gun, when he had gone to the beach, 70 miles from Hammond, for his day off? For me this raises two questions.
First, is American society really so dangerous that a man needs to take a gun with him on a day at the beach? If so, then something really needs to be done about general violence, and in particular about the proliferation of guns.
Second, is it really appropriate for a priest to carry a gun? I wouldn’t want to make a general rule forbidding this as there might be special circumstances where it would make sense. But it seems very strange to me that a man who claims to be representing Jesus who said “Do not resist an evil person … turn to them the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39) would carry a weapon.
Anyway it seems likely that resisting evil led to this priest’s death. The full circumstances are not clear, but according to the abc24 report “Police believe the handyman had intended to rob Everitt.” Very likely if the priest had followed the teaching of Jesus he would have lost his car (only temporarily as it had a tracking device) and his wallet but saved his life. But for having a gun, and maybe for confronting the thief with it, he paid with his life.
This incident shows clearly that (to contextualise yet another verse from Matthew, 26:52) those who live by the gun will die by the gun.