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Malawi Presbyterian synod proposes letting pastors carry arms

World News
Clerics have not been spared in Malawi’s spiralling of armed robberies and the situation is so severe the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) says it will allow some clerics to own at least one firearm for personal protection.

Central Malawi Nkhoma Synod’s Church and Society Programme director, Allan Chiphiko, told journalists on 18 May so many criminals have terrorised pastors that the synod is proposing to allow clerics to carry firearms for their personal safety.

"It is true the synod reverends will now be allowed to own guns for their safety because our pastors have been victims of various attacks and robberies," said Chiphiko. "There is nothing else we can do. This is just a matter of defence or self-protection. A pastor is also a person like anybody else, he feels pain."

Chiphiko said the proposal would not go against the church’s mission of spreading the word of God. He noted that 16 pastors have recently been targeted in armed robberies at the synod’s headquarters in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe.

The Presbyterian official told Malawi’s Dispatch newspaper that armed men recently besieged the house of the Rev. Siden Chiume in Dedza, a district, which boarders Lilongwe. In the attack, a robber chopped off the pastor’s fingers with a knife.

The synod conducted prayers on 20 and 21 May for an end to the criminality. But discussion on the guns’ policy has begun with the church’s general secretary.

Last year, the issue of whether pastors should be accompanied by bodyguards was debated. One newspaper debate noted divisions among clergy, some saying only God is the true protector of people, while others argued that with the escalating crime there was nothing wrong in pastors having bodyguards.

Some newspaper reports have said that clergy have been targeted by armed robbers as criminals know they are unlikely to own guns.

Roman Catholic clergy have also been targeted by armed robbers. Presbyterians and Catholics make up the majority of Malawi’s Christian population.

In February, Kenyan clerics from various denominations considered petitioning the government to grant them licences to carry firearms to fend off armed robbers.

(c) Ecumenical News International

Photo : World News