WASHINGTON (AP) — Sikh representatives will not participate in an interfaith meeting with Pope Benedict XVI during his U.S. visit next month because the Secret Service won't allow them to wear a ceremonial dagger that members of the Eastern religion must carry.I am for the right to bear arms, but any sane person can recognize the need to check your weapons at the door for an important meeting. Even the wild and wooly west followed this rule.
Sikhs had been invited to join other religious leaders for a 45-minute meeting with Benedict on April 17 in Washington to express a shared commitment to peace. But the Secret Service would not allow the Sikhs to carry a kirpaan, which resembles a small sword or dagger.
The kirpaan "represents the Sikh commitment to resist oppression and injustice" and is to be carried "only in a defensive posture and never to initiate confrontation," according to the World Sikh Council-America Region.
"We have to respect the sanctity of the kirpaan, especially in such interreligious gatherings," Anahat Kaur, secretary general of the Sikh Council, said in a statement. "We cannot undermine the rights and freedoms of religion in the name of security." [emphasis added
But this is about a sword of another type. We went to a neighboring parish last week and at the end of Mass, the priest was presented with his honorary lifetime membership by the Knights of Columbus. (I think all priests are honorary members of the Knights.) After the presentation, the priest monologued about the honor that this was, how he always wanted to wear the cape and sword. But alas, priests are restricted from carrying weapons.
Then he went on about how his grandfather (I think) was a 33rd degree Mason and how he now had the sword. And if hearing this story about Masons and swords wasn't bad enough, he finished his monologue off with the comment that the Masons and Knights were practically the same except for the patch on the shoulder and the cape.
A man can stomach many offenses and often the Mass today is an occasion for gritting one's teeth and carrying on through the chicanery. But for a priest to equate the fidelity of the Knights with the subversion of the Masons... well let say it still is a sore spot five days later. Hopefully the knights are up to defending their honor.