Leave Your Guns at Church in Chile

Bishops Offer Haven for Illegal Arms

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SANTIAGO, Chile, MAY 18, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Chilean bishops confirmed that parishes, churches and other places of worship in the country will accept weapons handed in anonymously.

The bishops are responding to a request of Chile’s government to aid in the implementation of a modified law on arms control.

The Permanent Commission of the bishops’ conference released a statement Monday, entitled «Contribution to Peace and the Common Good,» that confirmed the Church’s willingness to offer their sanctuaries as illegal arms drop-offs.

«Parish priests, rectors of churches and priests in charge of other places of worship will be requested, in communion with their bishops, to receive in parishes, churches, and said places of worship, weapons that people might wish to hand in anonymously,» said the episcopal conference.

The statement said that the arms will then be turned over directly to the proper authorities.

The Church is willing to cooperate in this action «that contributes to peace and the common good, especially at this time when we see so many signs of aggression and violence in daily coexistence,» the bishops said.

Bishop Cristián Contreras Villarroel, secretary-general of the Chilean bishops’ conference, commented last week that people trust the churches and their pastors to receive the weapons and to not reveal their identities to the police.

The auxiliary bishop of Santiago clarified that this is not a question of the secrecy of confession, and has nothing to do with the sacramental seal.

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