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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

10/7/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (

Priests who volunteer services to troops on bases are subject to arrest.

The government shutdown has created some rather ridiculous situations, while other problems are much more serious. Among the most serious ones is the open hostility toward Catholics serving in the military. Priests were told they could not celebrate the Mass and Catholics in the military could not receive the sacraments.

Our service personnel fight for our religious freedom, and deserve theirs.

Our service personnel fight for our religious freedom, and deserve theirs.


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (

10/7/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Priests, chaplains, military, arrest, shutdown

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - There are only 234 active duty priests serving within the U.S. military, but a quarter of the 275,000 service personnel are Catholic, according to CNS News. For occasions when priests are off duty or physically unavailable, the military has contracted with regional parishes to bring in civilian priests to meet the spiritual needs of the troops.

However, as a consequence of the shutdown, these priests cannot be brought onto base. This isn't just about pay. The priests cannot even be permitted onto base to perform sacraments even on a voluntary basis. Any civilian priest caught on a military base will be arrested.

CNS News has confirmed this prohibition via an Op-Ed from John Schlageter, general counsel for the Archdiocese of Military Services.

Therefore, because of the government shutdown, priests cannot tend to the needs of the soldiers even on a voluntary basis. And these are not luxuries, but genuine needs. Meeting those needs, even on an emergency basis, could result in arrest.

Weddings have been moved off base and more seriously, baptisms have been postponed.

On Capitol Hill, both sides spend more time and energy blaming the other for the shutdown than actually working to resolve the crisis. Why should they do otherwise? There is great political capital to be gained from a prolonged impasse and what wealthy member of Congress of the White House staff will suffer? Main Street alone will wither.

The correct solution is to meet with a serious intention to reform Obamacare, to provide full exemption to the HHS edict for all people of faith, and to agree to rein in government spending. At the same time, it must be accepted that Obamacare is going to be the law of the land -indeed, it already is.

Such a simple compromise can and should be made for many reasons. Perhaps among the most important is the religious freedom of our soldiers and our citizenry. For as it stands right now, the First Amendment has been thoroughly shredded by the Obama administration.

In the meantime, we may need priests to defy the edicts of the administration and its absurd rules. We could use the inspiration of martyrs for we have seen persecution of the Church before.

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