Today I have a New Hero...
It has been an awful week for the police with the tragic death of two dedicated WPC's in Manchester at the hands of what can only be described as a mad man. There has been a great deal of discussion over the week with respect to arming the police as well as asking how the police at large will react to this brutality.
I think many of our friends stateside laugh at the unarmed British bobby, but I feel proud that officers are not, by and large, armed. I think part of the reason is that I have had some very negative experiences with the police force and I wouldn't want any recurrences of incidents such as the murder of John Charles de Menezes. I have no truck with the arguments that say such mistakes are the price we have to pay: collateral damage if you will. It is not Catholic to assert that you will accept some evil in order to achieve the greater good—it is Utilitarian.
But also, I think that the philosophy behind our preference for an unarmed force is one of policing by consent, which is essential.
I have been worried for one policeman in particular, Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy, who is the man who many are now looking to for guidance, explanation and assurances about what it means to be a member of the British Police Force today. He has handled himself with composure and dignity throughout, and then today I heard this:
"I think a lot of us feel passionately that policing is a vocation. It is a calling.
I feel that in terms of my own faith but I know a lot of officers that don't have a faith, but feel exactly the same. You do often feel so helpless, so praying for the dead officers, praying for their families, becomes your own reaction, your own expression of hope really for them, at a time of great need."
Sir Peter, a devout Catholic, stands up as a role model for so many, and points those who follow him to Christ for answers in this desperate time. I am simply so moved by this public display of faith and hope that his words will comfort many. It struck me as something extremely rare in our modern world of sound-bites: some genuine, honest opinion without agenda and from experience.
Another man who offered comfort today was the man who is quickly becoming this country's 'Super-Bishop' Mark Davies, who at Mass today said:
"Police officers do not ask who it is that calls for their help but see their duty as responding to every emergency and so we remember today that they died here in our service, in fulfilling their duty for our protection."
Society seems to be growing increasingly violent and I, as one who has practised self-defense for many years, and has had to defend himself and others on numerous occasions, find it relevant to remind myself of the Church's teaching in this regard:
CCC 2307-2308More reflections on how society should deal with society here.
All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war. Despite this admonition of the Church, it sometimes becomes necessary to use force to obtain the end of justice. This is the right, and the duty, of those who have responsibilities for others, such as civil leaders and police forces. While individuals may renounce all violence those who must preserve justice may not do so, though it should be the last resort, "once all peace efforts have failed." [cf. Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 79, 4]
Catholics make great police officers because of this understanding of the serious nature of the duty we have to defend society. We should always work to seek peace, but never be afraid to stand up for what is right.