What is a vested deacon doing carrying a rifle? — UPDATED

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, your eyes do not deceive you. What you see here is a vested deacon cradling a rifle.

Deacon Bill Ditewig explains:

The caption identifies Bishop Richard Spencer of the Archdiocese for Military Services, USA, distributing communion to troops who are obviously in a hostile fire zone in Iraq.  The deacon next to the bishop is unidentified, but having a deacon vested and assisting the bishop while heavily armed is completely inappropriate.  I fully understand the need to offer security and protection to the bishop while he is with these forward deployed troops.  I also understand that deacons who are on active duty come from a variety of military specialties (we are not chaplains), some of which involve combat arms.  However, when this deacon made the decision to vest as an ordained minister of the church in service to the troops, he should have left his weapon down.  If there was a particular need for his service to provide security for the bishop which required him to be armed, then he should not have vested.  Might this have made the deacon and the bishop more vulnerable to hostile action?  Perhaps, but that is a risk being taken.

This strikes me as all kinds of wrong, in so many ways.  Thoughts?

UPDATE: Speaking of vestments…the Vatican has an overview on its web site of what vestments represent, and what prayers to say while putting them on (and how many men still do that, I wonder?)

A snip:

Beyond the historical circumstances, the sacred vestments had an important function in the liturgical celebrations: In the first place, the fact that they are not worn in ordinary life, and thus possess a “liturgical” character, helps one to be detached from the everyday and its concerns in the celebration of divine worship. Furthermore, the ample form of the vestments, the alb, for example, the dalmatic and the chasuble, put the individuality of the one who wears them in second place in order to emphasize his liturgical role. One might say that the “camouflaging” of the minister’s body by the vestments depersonalizes him in a way; it is that healthy depersonalization that de-centers the celebrating minister and recognizes the true protagonist of the liturgical action: Christ. The form of the vestments, therefore, says that the liturgy is celebrated “in persona Christi” and not in the priest’s own name. He who performs a liturgical function does not do so as a private person, but as a minister of the Church and an instrument in the hands of Jesus Christ. The sacred character of the vestments also has to do with their being donned according to what is prescribed in the Roman Ritual.

In the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite (the so-called Mass of Pius V), the putting on of the liturgical vestments is accompanied by prayers for each garment, prayers whose text one still finds in many sacristies. Even if these prayers are no longer obligatory (but neither are they prohibited) by the Missal of the ordinary form promulgated by Paul VI, their use is recommended since they help in the priest’s preparation and recollection before the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

UPDATE: A couple people have expressed alarm that the picture was published at all, with one reader angrily noting:

What U did is no better then the jerk who published the picture of the guys taking a leak on the dead Afghanistan’s [sic] ….we don’t need a dead deacon or bishop or soldiers.

To be clear: the picture was released by the Archdiocese for Military Services, showing events in Iraq from one year ago.   The archdiocese cleared the picture for distribution.  You can find the original source here.

UPDATE II: From a comment at Bill Ditewig’s joint:

The deacon in the picture serves as a Chaplain’s Aide for a National Guard Unit from Texas. He has been deployed twice in that capacity.

According to his deacon director, who checked on this picture, the weapon was given the deacon by a soldier who was attending Mass and the deacon was going to place the weapon in a secure location. Before he could place it there, somebody took a picture.

This discussion has been good, but the facts are important. Don’t judge without the facts.


  1. justamouse says:

    If the Bishop had a problem with it, he would have said so.

    He also hold two oaths to uphold, Holy Orders, and to the military.

  2. I’m not former military such as Deacon Ditewig so other than having had a son serve a couple of tours in Iraq I don’t have that connection. I must say that I don’t feel there is anything wrong with this photo. We have to remember, we are looking a single snap-shot, 5×7 inches of a very real situation. Was this Deacon simply holding a weapon for another soldier as he/she readied themselves to receive the Blessed Sacrament? Was the Deacon moving from one point to another and then rightfully so, bringing his weapon with him to rest near at hand?

    Regardless, I feel strongly that it is not up to any of us to declare this situation right or wrong but it is our responsibility to thank the Father there was a Priest and Deacon there to serve his flock, and to pray for the continued safety of all our military.

  3. Deacon Bill would know better, but is it possible the pictured deacon is simply holding the weapon for someone else who is receiving communion? The deacon is not assisting with that, and the servicemen who are armed appear to be carrying the same style of weapon. The deacon is not wearing the rifle as the servicemen are, and there is a uniformed serviceman toward the end of the line who is not wearing a weapon. I’m maybe trying to give too much slack to what to me is also a disturbing image, but without more details we might want to resist looking at it in the worst light.

  4. C’mon now…are we really worrying about this? Every one of the soldiers in the picture are carrying their weapons. Could they possibly have been ordered to do so? Why judge the man for this? He’s got both physical armor on and his “armor of God.”. What a great way to show how deacons work in both worlds and sometimes you have to be tough. What if they did come under fire and he was capable of protecting his sisters and brothers and did nothing because he left his gun down? Wouldn’t that be worse?. God bless him and what he is doing showing them that Jesus can be seen in ALL of us!


    Totally unsatisfactory, but we do not know the circumstances. It is entirely possble that all members were required to have “hands on” weapons at all times–and the deacon was not thinking of the conflict. Still, I agree with CDR Ditewig. Another question is why the public affairs officer–who must have been around for the bishop’s visit–allowed the photo to be taken.

  6. With 23+ years in the USAF Reserve 17+ as a Chaplain, I’m inclined to believe the deacon in question is not actually “armed” but holding the fire arm for another member. I do agree it looks a bit odd, but these things happen and when they do, someone is right there with a camara. It would not be SOP to have a deacon Armed – while vested.

  7. While not appropriate for liturgy, perhaps it is done in war in some units. I am more unnerved by the deacon holding the weapon than I would be if the deacon were wearing it slung on his back. It takes a lot more (relatively speaking) time [even though it hardly takes any time to do so) to unsling a weapon, aim and shoot than it does to aim the weapon one is holding and shoot. This is almost an accident waiting to happen. One does not walk around actually holding a weapon in one’s hand unless it is warranted, unless one thinks one is going to need to use it. Otherwise put it away, sling it on your back or whatever (in war, one would hardly give a second thought to seeing someone walking around with weapon slung on their back). But, it should not be at the ready like that.

    Alternatively, were this Mass taking place during a training exercise, they would still be required to have their weapons on them at all times. You cannot just leave your weapon on the ground some place like you might leave a coat in a pew at Mass. Or, for a training exercise, one might post a guard around a number of weapons who would be responsible for accounting for all the weapons.

  8. Deacon Bill says:

    I agree that we don’t know the circumstances. Perhaps the deacon needed to be responsible for the bishop’s security. In that case, he shouldn’t have vested — and from a military standpoint, how could he provide that kind of support if he was impeded by an alb and stole? Holding someone else’s weapon so they could receive Communion? Well, that’s a possibility, but that’s not what his posture indicates to me.

    For justamouse: I have no problem with the deacon being armed and fulfilling his military responsibilities; the problem I have is doing so while vested for liturgical service.

    Military priest-chaplains, who often serve in forward-deployed areas, do not go armed, at least they didn’t during my 22 years of active service. Would an image of a priest-chaplain vested for Mass in the field, wearing a sidearm over his alb be any less disconcerting?

    I think this points to the unique path the military-deacon has to walk. All ranks of clergy, according to canon law, are forbidden from joining the military; two exceptions are made. Priests may serve AS CHAPLAINS in the military (they would not be permitted to serve in combat specialties, for example), and permanent deacons are exempted from this canon. This means that deacons are drawn from a variety of military specializations, including combat arms; furthermore, permanent deacons in the United States military do not serve as military chaplains. The result is that deacons, like the man depicted in the photograph in question, have to constantly balance these two distinct roles and make prudential judgments on how these two roles relate. Let me be clear: while I find the image in question to be very, very disturbing, I also find my brother deacon’s position in this situation to be extraordinarily difficult, and I don’t envy the line he must walk.

    God bless,
    Deacon Bill

  9. Deacon Dan crimmins says:

    The Euchariet and a rifle can never be on the Altar together. One gives life the other takes life!!!

  10. It all seems pretty innocuous. He’s not even holding it in a ready position. If deacons or priests started a tradition of firing their weapons into the air after each line of the Apostle’s Creed, I’d get a little worried!

  11. Dcn C Garcia says:

    I cam see your point, but mayne the picture doesnt tell the whole story. It very well could have happened that the weapon was handed to him as an after thought or being a Deacon and former marine arent we ordained to serve the Bishop even if this is a bit extreme rather safe than sorry. Just my two cents.

  12. Deacon Charles Rohrbacher says:

    I’m with Dcn.Bill in finding this photograph of a vested deacon holding an assault rifle quite disturbing. Every aspect of the liturgy is laden with symbolic meaning– from vestments, to gestures, even the persons of the sacred ministers. Bishops, priests and deacons are icons of Christ, the Prince of Peace, who forgave his enemies from the cross and who rejected violence entirely. Yes, this photo is taken in a war zone in Iraq, under difficult and dangerous circumstances, but the Mass, the Divine Liturgy makes visible not simply an earthly reality but a vision of the world to come, of the heavenly kingdom, where war, violence and killing are no more. I doubt that when the beleagered and persecuted Chaldean Catholics of Iraq (those who haven’t been forced to flee the country) gather for the Eucharist, their deacons are armed.

  13. Deacon Don says:

    Instead of trying to explain away why the deacon was holding the weapon, we should be dealing with the larger issue, I think, which is the Church’s continuing inability to deal with the nonviolence that the life and ministry of Jesus call us to. I know very well what the Church has taught through the last 1800 years, but remember that in the first 300 years of the Church one was required to abandon their career as a soldier in order to be a Christian. Obviously this changed once Christianity became the official religion of the Empire.

    I believe that our next great step forward as a Church will be to finally shelve the “just war” theory and embrace a stance of nonviolence. I mean no disrespect to Deacon Bill and others who have served in the military – I just believe that the case can be made to take the Church in a direction of nonviolence that Jesus embraced.

  14. The Knights Templar were fighting monks. Historically there have been ordained clergy who were fighting soldiers. I don’t personally have a problem even with the most imaginative speculation. ;)

  15. Nobody knows what was happening. What one has is just a photo, and then Deacon Bill already made his thundering moral judgement. Sometimes I think internet is just terrible because everybody thinks he can judge over the whole world from his restricted position.

  16. @justamouse That is beside the point. An oath to the military does not mean a person must carry a weapon. You wouldn’t hand a surgeon in the middle of an operation a bazooka.

  17. Deacon Jose A. Munoz says:

    Dear Brother deacon…for more tht 25 years I always disagrie that a Policeman(law enforcemen men) be a deacon and worse see this picture that should NOT happend..Jesus NEVER carried a gun…whtas going on with the rel;igion practices???where is that bishop in this situation?..We deacons should satnd up for our duty as deacon at mas and our ministry…MANNY clergy are TO LIBERAL specially in the mas…deacon Jose A. Munoz…archNY

  18. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Reading the positive reactions here, I have to wonder: would people feel differently if the man holding the rifle were the priest?

  19. ron chandonia says:

    Thank you, Deacon Don. There’s no question that the Church is moving back to its roots in its stance on war, militarism and state-sanctioned violence generally. The most obvious sign of this is our radical reversal on capital punishment, a change that John Allen describes as “nothing short of astonishing.”

    At the outbreak of the Iraq War, Cardinal Renato Martino–then head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace–drew a parallel between our teaching on the death penalty and our shifting stance on the concept of just war. In an interview with the National Catholic Reporter, he offered these comments:

    “I would draw a parallel with the death penalty,” Martino said. “In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, there is an admission that the death penalty could be needed in extreme cases. But Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae said that society has all the means now to render a criminal harmless who before might have been sent to the gallows.

    “This could well apply to the case of war. Modern society has to have, and I think it has, the means to avoid war,” Martino said.

    St. Ambrose himself, often credited (or blamed) for helping to frame the just war theory, at least recognized how inappropriate it was for clerics to take up the sword. I think he would find the photo of the deacon here deeply disturbing.

  20. “This strikes me as all kinds of wrong, in so many ways.” What is the referent for “this”? The action in the photo, or WD’s critique of the action in the photo?

  21. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    The action in the photo: a deacon, vested, evidently assisting at Mass, holding a rifle.

  22. Before you go attacking the Deacon, please realize that active duty members in certain areas are required to carry their rifle by regulations (combat service support) as it is hostile territory. You will notice the other service members are carrying rifles while the civilians are not.

    I realize that many big city liberals have no connection to the military or what that life is like, but it is not an unusual sight. Islam prohibits any other religion to be worship in Afghanistan and a service like this outdoors could easily attract a suicide attack. Notice the concrete barriers?

    World War II chaplains also carried rifles/sidearms in combat and **gasp** actually used them to defend their brothers in arms.

    Battlefield Chaplains: Catholic Priests in World War II

  23. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    I have no problem at all with clergy carrying rifles/sidearms.

    I am bothered by seeing one doing so while vested and taking part in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

    Dcn. G.

  24. Bill Kelly says:

    Unless you know every detail of this picture it is wrong to make any judgements.The men in the military are at war and they are at war with a godless people who want everyone who is not “like” them dead. Protect yourself at all time. No explaination needed. You are in a war zone and the enemy knows that most times these gatherings are unarmed. Go Deacon GO!!!!!

  25. As an important historical note, four Catholic priests have been awarded the highest military honor — The Medal of Honor.

    Father Vincent R. Capodanno, awared posthumously
    Father Angelo J. Liteky
    Father Joseph T. O’Callahan
    Father Charles Joseph Watters, awarded posthumously

  26. First of all, we don’t even know that this guy is a real Catholic deacon. He could very easily be a “chaplain’s assistant” from another religion (and chaplain’s assistants do go armed, as their job is partly to be a chaplain bodyguard). If he’s a chaplain assistant who’s also clergy from another religion, he may be wearing vestments in that persona, not in any kind of Catholic persona. Since this seems to be a Communion service instead of Mass, he could very easily be vested in Protestant deacon vestments for a Protestant prayer service afterwards, and just be standing next to the priest while he’s finishing up.

    Second, it could very easily be that he’s just taken that gun to hold for someone. He is not wearing it and he doesn’t have it in any sort of particularly warlike pose. Guards don’t usually cradle their guns like a baby, where it’s a bit hard to get everything pulled around and aimed and fired. And again, if he’s a Protestant and those are his vestments, he wouldn’t have the same concerns for them as one might for consecrated Catholic vestments.

    Catholic deacons assuming this is a Catholic deacon seems premature, unless somebody recognizes the guy and knows for sure that he’s Catholic and a deacon, and not just J. Random Clergyman from the Denomination Down the Street. I’ve seen choirs that wore deacon sashes, and they surely weren’t deacons, Catholics, or even religious choirs.

  27. I’d like to know who’s attending Mass and taking snapshots during Communion?

    What the heck?

  28. The military has soldiers who also serve as official photographers, and they take and release pictures of pretty much everything except people dying. If you go on the military archdiocese site. (milarch.org), you’ll see that these pictures were released by the various services’ official photography units. There are several photos taken at the Consecration and at Communion from various Masses, because those are usually photographers’ favorite Catholic Mass subjects. (Just like they were for painters.)

    I don’t think the military archdiocese has any deacons. I looked and looked, and there just weren’t any, just like there’s no military archdiocese nuns.

  29. Oops! My bad! There’s a FAQ about serving as a permanent deacon in the military archdiocese.

  30. Catholic deacons can’t serve as chaplains, though. Only priests and bishops and such. This means that they wouldn’t be exempted from carrying weapons, so it would make a deacon’s position kind of strange, unless one was just in the area as a civilian contractor or something. Especially since, as I noted above, a chaplain’s assistant primarily serves as a chaplain’s bodyguard and must carry a gun all the time.

  31. Jeff Stevens says:

    Have you ever seen a photograph of the Pope at Mass? The Pope distributing communion? That means someone had to be photographing him doing so.

    Photographs at Mass are not a terrible thing. They happen all the time and sometimes for good reason.

  32. Deacon Bill says:

    Dear Maureen,
    Let me explain a bit, since I’ve worn both hats, and worked closely with the Archdiocese for Military Services, USA, both while in uniform and later during my years at the USCCB.

    Uniformed Catholic chaplains (who MUST be priests in the US; in Australia, for example, deacons MAY serve as chaplains) all serve “on loan” from their home dioceses or religious congregations. They are NOT incardinated into the AMS. The priests seek a release from their own bishop/superior and then enter the military, where they go through training and are eventually assigned to duty. They receive faculties from the AMS, as well as faculties from the local jurisdiction in which their command is located. For example, a priest-chaplain assigned to a command on Okinawa will have his faculties from the AMS as well as from the Diocese of Naha.

    Deacons, on the other hand, do NOT serve as chaplains in the military. However, at any given time, about 60-90 active duty military men are in fact deacons who have been ordained in some diocese or other (NOT the AMS, since the AMS doesn’t do this). For example, I was on active duty (Commander, USN) when I was ordained by Cardinal James Hickey and incardinated into the Archdiocese of Washington, DC. My first assignment from the Cardinal was to be released from the Archdiocese of Washington because I received orders from the Navy to go to Okinawa. The Archdiocese for Military Service granted me faculties, and when I arrived on Okinawa, I received faculties from the Diocese of Naha.

    My MILITARY duties involved running a large Navy base on Okinawa based on my military specialization; it had nothing to do with my vocation/ministry as a deacon. After duty hours and on the weekends, I served as deacon at the Air Force Base where we lived on another part of the island. Many members of my own command were also parishioners since they lived on the same base; it was an interesting blend of service. There were times when I would be around the Chapel in my uniform, if I didn’t have time to change. Deacons are not technically a part of the AMS AS CHAPLAINS, but we do have diaconal faculties to serve as clergy, just as priest-chaplains have presbyteral faculties.

    Some folks here have strongly criticized my “thunderous judgmentalism” in this case in which I have admitted I don’t have all the facts. That’s fine; folks are entitled to their opinion. All I ask is that people consider what I actually said: I have NOT said that it would be inappropriate for a deacon to exercise his proper military duties, including carrying a weapon! I have NOT said that the deacon should not be there to serve and protect the chaplain (or in this case, the bishop). All I am saying is that it is VERY DISCONCERTING and, in my opinion, inappropriate, for that to be done WHILE VESTED. Priest-chaplains do not wear their sidearms while vested for Mass, for example. The vestments we wear MEAN something, just as the uniform we wear MEANS something. The vestments COMMUNICATE important truths, as Deacon Greg rightly points out in his update to this item, just as our military uniforms communicate things. As I have said repeatedly, both here and on my own blog, if the deacon needed to serve in accordance with military protocol, then he should have stayed in uniform and done so; there is no problem with that. But once he put on liturgical vestments, he was signalling something else again.

    We deacons are constantly asked to exercise prudential judgment precisely because we live and work and minister in ways that our brother clergy do not. Would we find it acceptable for a deacon who is also an attorney to wear his liturgical vestments into court to plead a case? Probably not. What if the deacon were the judge in that courtroom? What would we think if the judge entered the courtroom in alb, stole and dalmatic instead of his judicial robe?

    Also, let me make something else perfectly clear. I am not condemning my brother deacon at all, precisely because I know first-hand how tough these calls can be to make sometimes, and as a military person myself, I have nothing but respect for the tightrope he must walk in his service!

    God bless,
    Deacon Bill

  33. ron chandonia says:

    Many of the comments here reveal a mindset that is all too common among some of our most committed American Catholics today: Military service is regarded as such a paramount Christian duty that the behavior of our men and women in uniform is beyond criticism. Deacon Don’s point above draws stares of incomprehension: “You mean there was once a time when Christians would have thought it wrong to carry weapons at all? How could that have been???”

    Vatican II might have taken a stance on war and peace more in line with the pre-Constantinian fathers of the Church if the bishops of the United States had not felt obliged to ward off all criticism America’s post-WWII global military presence. As it is now, the Vatican routinely issues statements on the subject that are widely at variance with the tasks we send American troops to do, but rarely – and almost never from the pulpit – do we hear our country’s bipartisan foreign policy questioned from a Christian–i.e., a WWJD–perspective. Really, people, would Jesus have wielded a weapon at the Last Supper?

  34. It is against the Geneva Convention for a Priest to carry a weapon. So I would I would totally be against it.

    They are assigned a Chaplain Assistant that helps set up for services and is basically the Chaplains Bodyguard. Making assumptions here, there is a possibility that this may be a Chaplains Assistant that is also a Deacon. Or he is holding it for a soldier…

  35. pagansister says:

    If I were walking about in a war zone and the area was considered very unsafe, I’d be carrying a weapon…member of clergy or not. Better an alive clergy member who can continue to do his/her job than a dead one who can’t do anything else to help troops.

  36. Thanks a billion for this clear explanation! And If I’d read the earlier explanation comment with more coffee, I would have understood better sooner…. :)

  37. Deacon Kanda, perhaps instead of criticizing this man who is in a war zone and who may be dead tommorow or even tonight, why don’t you go help your pastor by visiting a nursing home, or do all the sick calls for the rest of the month or tend to your knitting? All would be nicer.

  38. justamouse says:

    You know, that’s exactly what I came on to post. There were a lot of fighting monks, and thank God for them, too.

  39. I have had the understanding that to be an active duty Catholic Deacon was an impossibility? The archbishop doesn’t have jurisdiction over pastoral assignments … There are no technically, canonically, pastoral assignments. There are no parishes in the military. A man could not be assigned to a pastor/parish for deaconate. So who is he? Probably not even Catholic.

  40. http://www.milarch.org/site/c.dwJXKgOUJiIaG/b.6632497/k.B095/Permanent_Deacons_FAQs_Archdiocese_for_the_Military_Services.htm

    The young man in the photo can not possibly be a soldier and a Catholic Deacon volunteering his services or working in a GS position…with that weapon.

  41. Deacon Bill says:

    Dear Annasher,

    As I explained above, it is quite possible to be a deacon who is also on active duty. I know — I was one! And, at any given time, there are about 60-90 active duty deacons. What the Archdiocese is saying is that deacons do not serve AS CHAPLAINS. Rather, we continue to serve in whatever our military specialties are. We are not ASSIGNED by the military as deacons, but rather by our professional duties. So, as I mentioned above, I as on active duty running a base on Okinawa; in my off duty time/weekends, I served — with full faculties from the AMS — as deacon of the Air Force base where we lived.

    Another deacon-friend of mine was an active duty Colonel in the Army who was also the CO of a base in Korea, while at the same time serving as deacon in the military chapel there.

    Here in the States, we DO have a lot of civilian deacons who volunteer their ministries to local bases, that’s true. However, it is quite inaccurate to say that a deacon “cannot possibly be a soldier and a Catholic deacon.”

    Hope that helps.

    God bless,
    Deacon Bill
    Commander, United States Navy (ret.)

  42. How about when the people say “And also with you.” instead of “And with your Spirit.” I bet that would get some attention. Of course it would be hard on the roof.

    Not being serious. I was wondering about Permanent deacons in active service. Do any serve as chaplains or are they all serving in regular military roles?

  43. +1 Who knows what’s happening from this snap shot? Oh! Maybe he is being a good deacon in assisting the bishop by holding the bishops weapon while he gives Holy Communion. Now that’s even more disturbing.

    Sure it’s not likely but fess up- no body knows what’s going on in this picture.

  44. Do we know why Bishop Spencer is not properly vested? He looks like a priest concelebrant rather than a bishop presider.

  45. Probably had to wear a flak and kevlar while traveling via helicopter between FOBs – that’s extra luggage, depending where it was issued. A whole extra bag with mitre, crozier (can you get one that breaks down like a guidon stick for easy packing?) extra vestments, when he’s swinging through for a visit, not deploying for 6 months would probably be a little too much.

  46. I´ve posted this same picture on my blog in Brazil when US troops left Iraq last December


    Several brazilian sites commented about the gun with fun or angry. It raised a lot of polemic.

  47. Phyllis Zagano says:

    I saw an update here saying the deacon was holding another soldier’s weapon. That is worse! If indeed it is a war zone, no soldier would give away his weapon. I spent 31 years in the Navy and never saw anything like it! No matter what, I still blame the public affairs officer.

  48. DCN Dietwig is Navy. he most likely never spent time as a Trooper with the U.S. Army. The deacon was merely holding another service members weapon, in the Army a soldier must account and secure his or her weapon at all times.

    Perhaps the good deacon should stick with writing books instead of editorializing the innocent actions of a deacon who is at least brave enough to demonstrate his faith and ministry in a war zone.


  49. Deacon John says:

    Come on folks, let’s lighten up, not rush to judgement, and pre-suppose all the possible negatives. Obviously these warriors of ours are in a hot-zone and various personnel are armed…or weapons are immediately at hand. The scenario that this deacon is merely in transit to secure the weapon or just holding for someone is quite possible. Out of charity, and respect for his bravery, I think that’s the route I’d take….and just leave it at that.
    Regardless of how it seems to back here where safety prevails, we should consider this reality: Lots of “stuff” like this might offend the sensibilities for those of us not in harms way…but it’s just plain “ordinary” for those who are engaged in the chaos of war and who face injury or death every day.
    It’d be better for us to look at this with a little chuckle and recall the old adage: “Peace thru superior firepower!” If not that, then maybe just a lttle peace of mind, and pray they all come home safe.

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