Sunday, May 01, 2011
"The St. Gabriel Possenti Society, Inc. rejoices at the beatification in Rome on Sunday of Pope John Paul II," Society chairman John M. Snyder said today.
"The late Pope's writings display an appreciation of the right of self-defense so exemplified by St. Gabriel Possenti," Snyder added.
St. Gabriel Possenti used handguns in self-defense when he rescued the villagers of Isola del Gran Sasso, Italy in 1860 from a band of terrorists. Demonstrating his excellent handgun marksmanship, he shot a lizard running across the road. Then, without harming anyone, he drove the terrorists out of town.
"In the autumn of 1999, my wife and I were members of a small papal audience at the Apostolic Palace," recalled Snyder. "We were the only Americans with a group of Poles. When Pope John Paul entered the reception room, he immediately exclaimed, 'Who are the two Americans!'"
Two years later, the St. Gabriel Possenti Society held a conference in Rome attended by a great grand nephew of St. Gabriel Possenti. At that time, Snyder presented a specially designed gold medallion featuring a profile of St. Gabriel Possenti to the Holy Father through the Secretary of the Papal Household. Snyder later received an official papal letter of appreciation signed by a Vatican Assessor assuring him of "His Holiness's appreciation of the devoted sentiments which prompted this presentation."
"Today, your right to defend your own life is under attack," Snyder observed. "On the theological level, we regard Pope Benedict XVI's beatification of Pope John Paul II as a spiritual torpedo. This spiritual torpedo moves against those, especially alleged Catholic theologians and prelates, who oppose the use of firearms in self-defense.
"In his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, His Holiness cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2265 that '….legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another's life, the common good of the family or of the state.' Pope John Paul stated, 'Unfortunately, it happens that the need to render the aggressor incapable of causing harm sometimes involves taking his life.'"
Preceding the late Pope's Catholic Catechism citation is Catholic Catechism # 2263. This proclaims "the legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. 'The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one's own life; and the killing of the aggressor…the one is intended, the other is not.'"
Catholic Catechism # 2264 states "love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one's own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow."
The international, interdenominational Society emphasizes the historical, philosophical and theological bases for the right to use force in self-defense.
Possenti, a seminarian, died in 1862 of natural causes. Pope Benedict XV canonized him in 1920. The Society seeks his Vatican designation as Patron of Handgunners.
"There is an affinity between defenders of the right to self-defense and promoters of the right to life," commented Snyder. "With confidence we may now address Our Lord Jesus Christ through intercessory prayer to Blessed John Paul as well as to St. Gabriel Possenti."
John M. Snyder