PHOENIX - The Diocese of Phoenix says clergy members have the right to bear arms -- just like any other US citizen.
Less than a week after a Phoenix priest is murdered, many are surprised to learn Catholic clergy members can carry guns.
The Diocese of Phoenix says clergy members have the right to bear arms -- just like any other US citizen.
Last week, Father Joseph Terra was badly beaten by a burglar.
Police say when Terra tried to grab his gun, ex-con Gary Moran, wrestled it from his hands and shot Father Kenneth Walker to death.
Investigators say Moran ran out of the church and stole the priests car, along with $600 in property.
Investigators say the shooting took place inside the rectory, where the priests lived.
Attorney Mike Manning says that's considered a private residence, not part of the church itself.
"It's a terrible tragedy," said Manning.
Manning used to represent the Phoenix Diocese. Manning said he was surprised to learn Terra had a gun. However, Manning believes Terra was just trying to protect himself and his associate priest.
"I think those two things had to be at work in Father Terra's mind and that protecting himself and Father Walker and also parishioners who are also subject to some crazy person coming in there with a gun," said Manning.
The Vatican says a killing is justified if it's in self-defense.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
"Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.”